American Gangster (2007)


Biography | Crime | Drama


Ridley Scott




Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Brolin, Ted Levin, Armand Assante, John Ortiz, John Hawkes, RZA, Lymari Nadal, Yul Vazquez, Ruby Dee, Idris Elba, Carla Gugino, Joe Morton, Ritchie Coster, Jon Polito, Kevin Corrigan, Norman Reedus


Incorruptible detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a heroin kingpin from Manhattan, who is smuggling the drug into the country from the South East Asia.


I don't mind gangster movies yet I don't watch a lot of them because I'm sick and tired of those stereotyped Italian gangsters and those shootout scenes that last an eternity. Ridley Scott's "American Gangster" is different though. With a rather limited action, this film is an intense crime film as well a great biopic elevated by its performances.

Based on real life gangster Frank Lucas's life, the story never feels new as it reminds of that of other crime films, but it still is engaging and very interesting because it's the story of a black man who came from nothing and that was more influential than the Italian mob.

What I liked the most is that Scott did not try to mask Lucas's violent life, he did not glorify Lucas's lifestyle like most films of this genre do, but he portrayed him for the man he was. I don't know however how accurate he was since I don't know the story of Lucas.

Another point in favour is the (almost) lack of action and violence. Usually drug-related films are plenty of pointless shooting sequences and are extremely violent as well. Scott was able to tell the story without all of that.

What really makes the film memorable though is the acting. First off Denzel Washington who is - in my opinion and against that of others - the perfect fit to play Frank Lucas, and delivers a great performance as the ambitious, calm and fearless Frank Lucas was. No less important is Russell Crowe who also delivers a good performance in the role of the detective trying to bring down Lucas' empire, a character that was interesting at times, but unfortunately nothing more than a womanizer most of the time.

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