Saturday, November 10, 2007
Movie Reviews: AMERICAN GANGSTER
In 1970s Harlem, Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is a quiet, unassuming driver to one of NYC's most notorious drug lords. When his boss suddenly croaks, Frank steps into the power vacuum to become an even bigger crime kingpin. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is the hardnosed cop determined to bring Frank to justice. Based on a true story.
Cast Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Josh Brolin, Chjwetel Ejiofor, Carla
Gugino, Ted Levine
Director(s) Ridley Scott
Writer(s) Steven Zallian
Status In theaters (wide)
Release Date Nov. 2, 2007
Running Time 157 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for violence, pervasive drug content and language, nudity and sexuality
American Gangster is a thoroughly engaging, if well traveled, crime drama populated with some excellent performances from the two headliners. Ridley Scott gives his film a perfect sense of 70's filth and grime, sufficient enough to transport and envelope you to the time period. While the criminal American Dream story has been well worn, Scarface or The Godfather, here it's just as compelling as the first time. This is due in large part to excellent performances from Washington and Crowe. Crowe's Roberts is a flawed man who has a single remaining strain of virtue and he hangs by it throughout. Washington's Lucas has an almost aristocratic sense of nobility with a contained raged simmering just below. Both give their characters an air of toughness mixed with vulnerability which breathe life into their respective parts. Neither chews up screen time as much as they allow themselves to organically ease into their roles, never overdoing any of the dialogue. Josh Brolin provides a solid supporting role as a slimy as they come corrupt cop, continuing his unexpected career resurrection. Sadly some great talent such as Chjwetel Ejiofor are underused, Ruby Dee does get one great scene, and get very little to do but show their face in a scene. Still this is Crowe's and Washington's show and they don't disappoint. American Gangster is a blend of a lot of familiar tells but it posses such a wonderful polish that it's hard not to be totally engaged by the plot.