Canadian Reviews

American Gangster Review


Based on the true story of Frank Lucas, leading NY crime boss in the 1970s, American Gangster is a very good crime film. Lucas (Denzel Washington), a driver for Bumpy Johnson (a real life 1970s crime boss in Harlem), takes over his territory when Bumpy dies of a heart attack. Lucas revolutionizes the drub trade by buying his product from drug overlords in SE Asia, instead of dealing with corrupt cops like everyone else. Very quickly, he becomes a rich and powerful man in NY. Of course, the police can’t believe he’s really behind the huge increase in drugs, simply because there has never been a black crime boss with so much clout.

 

His opponent, Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) leads an investigation into where the drugs are coming from and is stymied at every turn, by corrupt NYPD officers, the Mafia, even his own friends and relatives.

 

American Gangster is a fantastic look into the criminal underworld of the 1970s and isn’t full of the usual clichés (car chases, car bombings, drive bys, etc). Instead of endless action sequences, the film relies on a great story and a well scripted duel between a great protagonist and an excellent antagonist. Both men are willing to do whatever it takes to prevent the other from succeeding. The supporting cast includes Josh Brolin (excellent as a corrupt NY cop), Cuba Gooding Jr. (a flashy rival crime lord), and many other solid actors. Ridley Scott’s direction is near flawless, and he should at the very least be nominated for an Oscar (if not winning it). I’d argue that if The Departed was Scorsese’s masterpiece that finally did the trick, then this is Scott’s. The only real flaw is that the two characters have very little time on screen together. Despite the length of the film (over 2.5 hours), the film moves along at a good pace and never seems to drag.

  

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Added: November 6th 2007
Reviewer bootlegga
Related Link: Official website
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