Gangster Squad Preview

Patrick drags himself, broken and bleeding, onto the highway shoulder. His captors would be back, but he just needs a second to think. Just then a dark limousine pulls up and an intimidating figure rolls down the window. “So you escaped. Good,” the man says, chomping down on a cigar, “that makes our lives a little easier. Get in.” Patrick hesitates, but when he looks back up the highway he sees Lost and Found’s truck driving erratically back down the road in search. Hopping in he asks the man who he is and why he was following him. “We have a mutual friend in Nic… Nic Cage,” he says as Patrick’s heart leaps. “He still holds out hope that you two can save the world. I’m not so sure, especially after you so easily fell into Sticks and Stones’ trap. But you don’t let down Nicky. Not in this world… or any other.” Patrick’s blood has run cold… Sticks and Stones… no wonder they seemed so familiar. “You’re with my squad now, so relax,” he finishes as he and his companions load their guns. That’s right! We’re using Anthony Mackie from Runner Runner to go to Gangster Squad starring… everyone basically. It was a classic style-over-substance critique for the film that dropped it into BMT territory and we pounds like BMT tigers going after BMT prey. Let’s go!

Jamie zooms through the air, taking his hanglider to the limit. As he skirts the highest building in New Angeles he sees a figure lean out of one of the windows. Jamie happily waves at him, but stops when he sees the crossbow. His beautiful hanglider takes an arrow her majestic wing and only through the immense power of his biceps and pilot skills is he able to land safely. Steam rises from the street and neon lights flash as his hanglider companion slides out of the mist on a skateboard. Jamie’s heart sinks when he sees the gun in his hand. “Welcome to the future,” the man says, “Where you either fight… or you die.” That’s right! We are pairing the Sean Penn Gangster Squad with the Chris Penn futuristic martial arts (?) film Future Kick. It starred one of the best kickboxers of all time, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and is about kickboxing robots. Don’t think there’s more to say than that. Let’s go!

Gangster Squad (2013) – BMeTric: 14.7 

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(Ooooo the first one in a while that started really high and is regressing down instead of up. I do know that there are fans of this film, mostly due to the stellar cast.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  In 1949 L.A., police chief William Parker (Nolte) hires square-jawed WW2 veteran Brolin to assemble an elite team that will work under the radar to bring down ferociously ambitious gangster Mickey Cohen (Penn, in an outlandish performance), who wants to take over California. Garishly colorful but ludicrous, despite a promising start; a comic-book rendering of a fascinating true story as reported by Paul Lieberman in his book of the same name. Worth a glance for Maher Ahma’s stylish production design.

(Well I got my semi-colon so I can’t complain. An absolutely epic review though which honestly mostly just describes the film? Like, the actual review boils down to: Penn is crazy, the film is ludicrous, but worth a watch just for the production design alone.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlbN5cQKZik/

(I AM THE FUTURE! It does look very stylish, and I like the song. But it also looks a little too badass for its own good. Showing the true story of taking down crooks using their own criminal ways is one thing … but this is arguable the glorification of extrajudicial punishment which is a whole other thing. But we’ll see.)

Directors – Ruben Fleischer – (Known For: Zombieland; 30 Minutes or Less; Future BMT: Venom; BMT: Gangster Squad; Notes: Is married to Emma Stone’s publicist, Emma Stone introduced them. They got married in 2012, so all of that definitely happened prior to Fleischer presumably casting Stone in this film.)

Writers – Will Beall (written by) – (Known For: Aquaman; BMT: Gangster Squad; Notes: Was a story editor for Castle for years, and then developed the Training Day show as well. He is tapped to write the up coming Conan sequel starring Schwarzeneggar.)

Paul Lieberman (book) – (BMT: Gangster Squad; Notes: He wrote for the Los Angeles Times for 24 years, which is where he researched and wrote the book the movie is based on.)

Actors – Sean Penn – (Known For: Mystic River; Fast Times at Ridgemont High; The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; The Tree of Life; The Game; Angry Birds; I’m Still Here; The Thin Red Line; Being John Malkovich; Carlito’s Way; Risky Business; 21 Grams; U Turn; Fair Game; Milk; Bad Boys; Taps; Dead Man Walking; This Must Be the Place; At Close Range; Future BMT: It’s All About Love; The Weight of Water; All the King’s Men; Hugo Pool; Crackers; BMT: Shanghai Surprise; The Gunman; Gangster Squad; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor for Shanghai Surprise in 1987; Notes: Somewhat notably gave David Spade a tattoo somewhere outside of New York (he wasn’t licensed) during SNL. Recently he gave Spade a second tattoo as well.)

Ryan Gosling – (Known For: Blade Runner 2049; The Big Short; First Man; Remember the Titans; La La Land; The Notebook; Drive; The Nice Guys; Crazy, Stupid, Love.; Blue Valentine; The Place Beyond the Pines; The Ides of March; Fracture; Only God Forgives; Song to Song; Lars and the Real Girl; Half Nelson; The Believer; The Slaughter Rule; Future BMT: Murder by Numbers; All Good Things; Stay; BMT: Gangster Squad; Notes: Was a child actor, primarily with Beaker High and Young Hercules, and has been nominated for two oscars.)

Emma Stone – (Known For: The Favourite; Superbad; Zombieland; La La Land; The Help; The House Bunny; Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); Crazy, Stupid, Love.; The Amazing Spider-Man; Easy A; The Amazing Spider-Man 2; Friends with Benefits; The Croods; Irrational Man; The Interview; Battle of the Sexes; Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping; Magic in the Moonlight; The Rocker; Future BMT: Aloha; Unlikely Hero; BMT: Movie 43; Marmaduke; Ghosts of Girlfriends Past; Gangster Squad; Notes: Won the oscar for La La Land. Broke out with Superbad which was genuinely her first feature film.)

Budget/Gross – $60–75 million / Domestic: $46,000,903 (Worldwide: $105,200,903)

(Not good, although that isn’t that far off from the budget for Rambo 4 and the eventual gross, and for some reason Stallone places $100 million worldwide as the market for the success of a “small-ish” film. So maybe this is a success … less opportunity for product placement in a period piece though.)

#24 for the Crime Time genre

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(Weirdly of the now six crime films we watched, this is the highest grossing. This came right at the peak of the post-2008 financial collapse boom in crime based films. You can discuss the psychology of that trend amongst yourselves.)

#9 for the True Crime genre

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(The first true crime film we’ve watched. Other potential options: The Black Dahlia, Texas Killing Fields, King of Thieves, and Wonderland (2003). We could just polish those right off.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (64/202): Though it’s stylish and features a talented cast, Gangster Squad suffers from lackluster writing, underdeveloped characters, and an excessive amount of violence.

(Stylish seems to be the name of the game here. And I knew it! Excessive amounts of violence is code for “I feel uncomfortably with how they seem to be glorifying extrajudicial punishments here.” Dollars to donuts.)

Poster – Gangster Sklog (A-)

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(This is checking off a lot of boxes for font, spacing, and look. A little too stylish for its own good maybe and dark in tone, but I think they are doing an homage to an era of film I’m probably not knowledgeable enough about to really appreciate. Still good though.)

Tagline(s) – No names. No badges. No mercy. (A+)

(Uhhhhhh, yah. This is what I want. All day every day give me that clear, concise, and clever tagline with flow for days. This is pretty much perfect.)

Keyword(s) – police vigilantism; Top Ten by BMeTric: 83.1 RoboCop 3 (1993); 58.5 The Mod Squad (1999); 58.5 Alex Cross (2012); 55.6 Leatherface (2017); 54.6 Max Payne (2008); 51.7 The Crow: Salvation (2000); 48.0 Samurai Cop (1991); 46.3 Machete Kills (2013); 45.8 Edison (2005); 42.8 Exit Wounds (2001);

(I’ve actually seen Machete Kills, it is awful. I think I watched it outside of BMT for the Razzies or something. We’ll finish these up at some point )

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 19) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Nick Nolte is No. 3 billed in Gangster Squad and No. 4 billed in Zookeeper, which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 3 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 4 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 19. If we were to watch Stay, The Island, and The Black Dahlia we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – In the movie, the Gangster Squad is assembled to go after Mickey Cohen. However, in real life Chief W.H. Parker set up the squad to prevent other gangsters from taking over Cohen’s rackets after Cohen went to prison on income tax evasion. Whenever the squad learned that out-of-town gangsters were coming to Los Angeles to try to set up new operations, the Gangster Squad would kidnap them, beat them up (some rumors say torture) and then send them back to wherever they came from with the warning that if they ever returned, they would be killed. (Fun facts)

There are two surviving members of the original gangster squad, and they, along with relatives of the deceased members, came to visit the set.

De’aundre Bonds’ first film role in ten years. He served ten years in prison for manslaughter. (There is no additional information about the killing, but good for him, seems to still be acting a bit)

Two of the reasons Ryan Gosling decided to make the movie was because he wanted to act in a scene with Sean Penn and shoot a Tommy gun. He was disappointed when he found out he didn’t have any scenes with Sean Penn. (I guess that means he shoots a Tommy gun)

Nick Nolte, who portrays Chief W.H. Parker, previously played the leader of the gangster squad in Mulholland Falls (1996). (WHAT)

Robert Patrick lost 30 pounds for the part, in order to look more like a “cowboy”. (Weird, but okay)

The big nightclub in the film was originally an old furniture store that was converted. Bellflower, CA–where this was shot–was hit hard by the 2007 recession, and the production company was able to take over a main street in the city and turn it into period Los Angeles.

The film is based on a series of L.A. Times articles that were turned into a book written by Paul Lieberman. He turned those stories into a book..

Ryan Gosling’s character makes a joke where he pretends that the only famous Mickey he has heard of is Mickey Mouse. As a child, Gosling starred in MMC (1989). (Huh, I wouldn’t have caught that)

Ryan Gosling agreed to join the film in exchange for the studio financing his directorial debut Lost River. (B-b-b-b-b-b-ut I thought he wanted to shoot a Tommy gun!)

Nick Nolte portrays Police Chief W.H. Parker. The real W.H. Parker was in his mid-40’s during the time this movie is set. Nick Nolte was 71 years old when the film was released. (He also sounds like he has smoked all of the cigarettes in the world)

The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2010 Blacklist; a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.

Body count: 59.

The movie culminates in a giant shootout at the hotel in which dozens of gangsters are mowed down by Tommy guns. The leader of the squad, Jack O’Mara (Josh Brolin) assaults Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) and arrests him for murder. In real life, Mickey Cohen was arrested for tax evasion. Also, by the time Cohen was imprisoned in 1961, the real Jack O’Mara was retired and watched the trial as a civilian.

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Runner Runner Preview

Poe flips his bat, admiring the bodacious bomb he just hit to left field. As he crosses home plate he is greeted by a scowling Rich, “Isn’t it about time we bust these guys and get that tech? You’ve done enough showboating for the both of us.” Now it’s time for Poe to scowl, “Showboating? I think you’re slump has you a little jelly. Besides, this is all part of the plan. How else are we supposed to get to the tech if we can’t get close to Brock? A star player only hangs with a star player like me,” and with that he bumps Rich out of the way. “Locker room talk, am I right?” he says, sitting down next to a laughing Brock. Rich goes back to sit with Blaze. “Stupid Brock, stupid Poe. Whatever, I’m not jelly. He’s jelly. Besides, I’m not playing that badly, right Blaze?” But Blaze just looks at him. “Shit.” Just then an out of breath Bryce runs up. “Rich! I was wrong. This is just boring ol’ baseball.” He knew it! “I just stopped by the computer lab and saw some people playing a game. I asked what it was and they said it was some new tech. Something big.” Rich is intrigued. Perhaps they are finally on the right track. He turns to tell Poe the news, but sees him charging the mound after taking umbrage at a late called strike. Rich shakes his head sadly and turns back to Blaze and Bryce, “We’ll have to split up and take this on ourselves. We’ve lost Poe. He’s in too deep. Alright, so what’s this game you saw?” Bryce scratches his head, “well, it just looked like online poker to me, but no one ever seems to win.” That’s right! This week we’re moving ever forwards in the Chain by jumping from Armageddon with Ben Affleck to Runner Runner. This was a Justin Timberlake vehicle that I had no interest in seeing at the time and continue to have no interest in seeing. Great. Laurence Mason (aka Lord Nikon) had a bit part in the film. It counts. Let’s go!

Runner Runner (2013) – BMeTric: 45.7 

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(… Runner Runner came out in 2013?! Anywho, this is an amazing rating which just sticks at 5.6 no matter what. It is actually genuinely its rating: substantially below average. Maybe people just don’t give a shit about poker films?)

RogerEbert.com – 2 stars –  As an exercise in style, “Runner Runner” has its moments, especially early on, but some of Affleck’s torpor seems to infect the film itself after a while. Inventive framing and shot selection give way finally to let’s-get-this-done conversations, filmed in unimaginative shot/reverse-shot style.

(Yeah the entire review is kind of a hit on Affleck for being a bit too big to allow the film to end on its own terms, instead it had to accommodate him as a star and the film suffers.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFPqyNvNzvU/

(Do you need me to do it again! That is the Extraordinary Measures moment for the film. I always remember that from the trailer. Looks super generic and boring though.)

Directors – Brad Furman – (Known For: The Lincoln Lawyer; The Infiltrator; The Take; BMT: Runner Runner; Notes: Is attached to direct an upcoming Mel Gibson project, War Pigs.)

Writers – Brian Koppelman (written by) – (Known For: Ocean’s Thirteen; Rounders; Runaway Jury; The Girlfriend Experience; Solitary Man; Future BMT: Knockaround Guys; Walking Tall; BMT: Runner Runner; Notes: Big into the gambling scene which is basically what all of his films focus on.)

David Levien (written by) – (Known For: Ocean’s Thirteen; Rounders; Runaway Jury; The Girlfriend Experience; Future BMT: Knockaround Guys; Walking Tall; BMT: Runner Runner; Notes: Wrote / created smash hit Billions. Also has written crime novels.)

Actors – Ben Affleck – (Known For: Dazed and Confused; Triple Frontier; Gone Girl; Good Will Hunting; The Accountant; The Town; Field of Dreams; State of Play; Argo; Daredevil; The Sum of All Fears; Dogma; He’s Just Not That Into You; Shakespeare in Love; Mallrats; Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; School Ties; Chasing Amy; Clerks II; Boiler Room; Future BMT: Surviving Christmas; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Reindeer Games; Suicide Squad; Man About Town; Pearl Harbor; 200 Cigarettes; The Third Wheel; Live by Night; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Justice League; Smokin’ Aces; BMT: Gigli; Runner Runner; Phantoms; Paycheck; Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor in 2004 for Daredevil, Gigli, and Paycheck; Winner for Worst Screen Combo for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2017; Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Gigli in 2004; Nominee for Worst Actor in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; in 2005 for Jersey Girl, and Surviving Christmas; and in 2017 for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Nominee for Worst Actor of the Decade in 2010 for Daredevil, Gigli, Jersey Girl, Paycheck, Pearl Harbor, and Surviving Christmas; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 1999 for Armageddon; in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; and in 2005 for Jersey Girl; Notes: Ya’ll know Ben Affleck. Rumor his next project, I think called The Last Duel, is the first team up between him and Damon since Good Will Hunting.)

Justin Timberlake – (Known For: The Social Network; Trolls; Friends with Benefits; Black Snake Moan; Bad Teacher; Inside Llewyn Davis; Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping; Shrek the Third; Alpha Dog; Trouble with the Curve; Future BMT: Yogi Bear; Southland Tales; Edison; On the Line; The Open Road; Wonder Wheel; In Time; BMT: The Love Guru; Runner Runner; Notes: Married to Jessica Biel. Got in a spot of trouble by taking a selfie in a voting booth, whoops!)

Gemma Arterton – (Known For: Murder Mystery; Quantum of Solace; The Boat That Rocked; RocknRolla; The Girl with All the Gifts; The Voices; The Disappearance of Alice Creed; Byzantium; The Escape; Tamara Drewe; Their Finest; Gemma Bovery; 100 Streets; A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures; Song for Marion; Future BMT: Clash of the Titans; St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold; St. Trinian’s; Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; BMT: Runner Runner; Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; Notes: Interestingly enough according to wikipedia she was born with extra fingers which were then removed. Fun.)

Budget/Gross – $30 million / Domestic: $19,316,646 (Worldwide: $62,675,095)

(That is a terrible domestic take. Kind of amazing it didn’t do better actually. I would have thought some people would have just gone and seen a Timberlake / Affleck film out of habit. Maybe made back the budget worldwide, but it would have been close.)

#51 for the Crime Time genre

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(Crime Time! It is extremely depressing that films surrounding criminals absolutely peaked right after the financial crisis. Like that is the only way people could get a grip on it. Either in the glorification of comeuppance of criminals.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 8% (9/120): It has an impressive cast and an intriguing premise, but Runner Runner wastes them on a bland, haphazardly assembled thriller with very little payoff.

(Hmmmm. I’m only a thriller kick though. Methinks I can get something out of this. That being said 8% is astonishing low. Reviewer Highlight: The actors hit the jackpot, but only in terms of their paychecks. The audience gets a tension-free, tight-assed, Casino ripoff that leaves them thoroughly fleeced. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

Poster – Renner Renner: The Jeremy Renner Story (D+)

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(The poster used for the DVD cover is better than this one, but we default to IMDb as presumably they know better than us what the primary theatrical poster was. This is not good. It’s got an overall blue tone that’s OK, but pretty much everything else kind of sucks. I would say it’s the most boring poster ever if I didn’t know the poster for The Tourist exists. Look at that… it’s almost a masterpiece in being a boring piece of shit.)

Tagline(s) – Play. Or be played. (C-)

(I mean, I guess it has something to do with the plot and it’s not overly long. But not clever and generic to book. Blah on top of blah.)

Keyword(s) – poker; Top Ten by BMeTric: 74.5 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011); 64.9 In the Mix (2005); 63.6 Boat Trip (2002); 51.4 McHale’s Navy (1997); 50.8 Iron Eagle II (1988); 49.1 The Specialist (1994); 47.5 MacGruber (2010); 45.7 Runner Runner (2013); 44.0 Unaccompanied Minors (2006); 40.4 The Break-Up (2006);

(Incredible that Runner Runner made it on.I only vaguely remember MacGruber’s poker scene, doesn’t he just lose all of his money immediately? Great film.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Ben Affleck is No. 1 billed in Runner Runner and No. 1 billed in Gigli, which also stars Al Pacino (No. 7 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 1 + 7 + 1 + 3 + 1 = 14. If we were to watch Pearl Harbor we can get the HoE Number down to 7.

Notes – Although set in Costa Rica, the majority of the scenes in the movie were filmed in Puerto Rico. (SETTING ALERT. That is a high quality setting)

In a 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly Gemma Arterton said on Runner Runner (2013) “It made me stop wanting to be an actor. The whole thing wasn’t right for me. It wasn’t the type of thing I enjoyed watching or doing. I had a moment where I thought, ‘Okay, I got into this because of Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier and now I’m making action movies.’ Not that I wouldn’t ever do [action movies] again but I realized then that it wasn’t for me and I decided to do more theater and collaborate with people.” (Lol, holy shit, Runner Runner made Arterton look at herself in the mirror and change her life!)

Canadian EDM star Deadmau5 makes an appearance as himself at a party playing a set. (Cool)

The Shorts Skyvan aircraft taking off near the end of the movie, is the same one that was used for the movie Welcome to the Jungle (2013), with tail number N106SW, and it was the property of MN Airlines until late 2014. (And now is presumably owned by a movie studio? Weird)