Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe team with director Ridley Scott (Gladiator) in this powerful, epic story. Armed with ruthless tactics and a strict sense of honor, crime boss Frank Lucas (Washington) rules Harlem's chaotic drug underworld. When outcast cop Richie Roberts (Crowe) sets out to bring down Lucas's multimillion-dollar empire, it plunges both men into a legendary confrontation.
In American Gangster Ridley Scott has created the perfect storm of an American movie masterpiece. An amazing group of actors, headlined by Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe, produces a very convincing period piece of 1970s New Jersey and New York and the crime culture that existed there. It's hard to feel anything but shame watchig this movie. This movie is both believable and tragic, and it startles me that neither Crowe nor Washington received nominations for two incredible performances.
The Story and the Script
The story is supposed to be based on the real life exploits of Frank Lucas. Movies like this usually exaggerate. The fact that this movie is so believable makes it all the more tragic. There are no black and white characters and we are left to...
This viewer rented the DVD form of AMERICAN GANGSTER, having passed it by in the theatrical run, thinking that it was yet another 'crime and corruption in New York' genre film. It was surprising to discover that this very long film (just under three hours in the Unrated version) is completely riveting and in a way far different than the usual gangster film: this story, based on real people as outlined in an article by Mark Jacobson (transformed for the screen by Steven Zaillian), and while it has its share of grisly killings, it seems more concerned with the issues of integrity in the face of police corruption as embodied in the character of Richie Roberts, the etiology of the heroin use escalation following the Vietnam War, and the presence of a 'Black Mafia' lead by one Frank Lucas. It is delivered with compelling gusto and intelligence by director Ridley Scott and has some of the best acting of the year. In other words, this is not a film to be lightly dismissed as a Hollywood...
There's little new in director Ridley Scott's "American Gangster." However, the emphasis on characterization over violent action is refreshing. Denzel Washington gives a compelling performance as real-life Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, with Russell Crowe equally impressive as New Jersey detective Richie Roberts - the man determined to bring down Lucas' heroin empire. An excellent supporting cast features standout portrayals by Josh Brolin and Oscar-nominated Ruby Dee. Regardless of the predictable outcome, Scott manages to keep the pot boiling for 157 minutes. "American Gangster" does not rank with the classic crime epics, but remains a solid achievement.
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