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Gangster Squad by Steve Jablonsky (Review)

posted Jan 26, 2013, 12:59 AM by Kaya Savas

The immense weight of talent behind Gangster Squad is something to behold, which makes its flop ever more disappointing. Gangster films have always had certain genre archetypes and that also trickled down to score as well. For some reason people like to lump gangster films with film noir, which is totally unfair to both sub genres. Steve Jablonsky replaced Carter Burwell on this project and added his own twist to it. The result is a very satisfying experience. 

Jablonsky should shock a lot of people here since he manages to build an impressive and immersive score that doesn’t include robots blowing things up. What the score does well is establish a great setting that really propels the action. Unfortunately at its essence this is another action score, which is a genre that Jablonsky can’t seem to escape. He utilizes all his tried and tested techniques, but luckily it feels new here. You won’t listen to it and feel like you’ve heard it before. He’s so good at transplanting his style to fit the film that the music takes on a fresh identity. What some people may take as a weakness to the score, I feel makes it rise above the rest. And that would be that he doesn’t dabble too much in genre archetypes. The last track “Gangster Squad” is really the only time he pays homage to the genre, and while it’s a very great piece I’m sort of glad the entire score wasn’t done in that style. I feel like it would have been hokey and cheesy. The score has the right amount of flair, propulsive pieces to entertain and just solid execution. It can feel too modern at times and the lack of a strong central theme makes it less memorable.

Gangster Squad showcases that Steve Jablonsky is more than Michael Bay’s composer. His style is undeniable and his approach here is admirable. I really enjoyed the score, but I wish it had just that little extra something to give the listener an emotional hook. It’s not complex but it’s entertaining and has a certain flair. I just wish it had more of a lasting impression.