American Gangster Review

GATW Guest Writer

by: GATW Guest Writer
November 4th, 2007

American Gangster is one of those films that when you first hear the details of the project you think the film is destined for greatness. The producer Brian Grazer and screenwriter Stephen Zaillian both have Oscars for their past work. The film is directed by Ridley Scott, the very talented director who has had a tremendous amount of success in many different genres. Including a previous trip into the crime drama genre with Black Rain, a tense and entertaining film about an American cop investigating a personal case in Japan. American Gangster also stars two of the most popular and talented actors currently working in American cinema, Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington. Given the talent behind American Gangster anything other than a modern masterpiece could be considered a disappointment.

American Gangster is over two and half and hours long. However, the film’s long running time is due to the magnitude of the story it is telling and not a result of a convoluted story or poor editing. American Gangster sets up the story nicely, grabbing the viewer from the opening shot. The film is never low on excitement, containing many brutal and well-choreographed action scenes. The climatic raid on Frank’s drug business is carried out to perfection, full of blood and white knuckles.

Also, the film does a great job of creating an emotional character study along with a gritty and engrossing crime film. The audience learns about Frank’s intelligence, family, and desire for success. Creating conflict for the audience because Frank is a likeable and hardworking guy who also sells a highly addictive product that destroys its user. Similarly, Richie is not perfect, he is an honest cop but also a womanizer who allows his job to interfere with his family life. By peering into their personal life sympathy is created for these two flawed but sincere men.

Russell Crowe delivers another solid performance as Richie Roberts, the driven cop determined to make the streets of New York safe. However, it is Denzel Washington that consistently captivates the audience as the shrewd businessman and drug dealer, Frank Lucas. Whose business happens to be heroine. Denzel’s soulful performance keeps everyone silently rooting for Frank to get away, despite all the violent acts we watch him perform.

Mr. Scotts directing is pitch perfect, never allowing his talent to over shadow the story or actors. Ridley Scott’s experience with various genres allows him to have the appropriate touch when dealing with the emotional side of the story. However, Mr. Scott is still a master at creating tension and excitement through editing and visual style, and the film’s crime heavy story allows Ridley many times to show off this talent.

Heart breaking and exhilarating, American Gangster is always entertaining despite its long running time. American Gangster is also one of those great instances where the film achieves the quality you would expect given the level of the talent involved.

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  • horsebaby

    Saw this on Friday and thought it was great. I liked how the parallel story line segments became incrementally shorter and more overlapping as the characters lives started to interconnect. Gimmicky by less talented hands, but it worked here.

    …and ya, you know a movie is good when it doesn’t seem long at 2.5 hrs

  • rsoto

    i saw this sunday. i have to say both denzel and russel are two of my favorite actors and just seeing both of them in the same film was great. overall i thought it was a great movie and would deff recomend it..

  • amberduh

    I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see this or not, but now eiz goein to c it 4 shur. thanks.

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