American Gangster A
Starring Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, and Josh Brolin
Directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator)
Rated R for violence, pervasive drug content and language, nudity and sexuality
Appropriate for ages 17+
The Story: Based on the life of drug-kingpin-turned-informant Frank Lucas (Washington), American Gangster tells the tale of the infamous drug lord’s rise to to power and the police officer that wants to take him down (Crowe). Responsible for most of the early heroine trade in Harlem, Lucas became a multi-millionaire by personally traveling to Vietnam to buy the drugs, and then having them shipped back to the states in the coffins of American soldiers. By doing this, he became more powerful than even the mafia during this dark chapter in American history.
The Good: Not since the 70s have we seen such a gritty and intense crime drama. Throw Scarface and The French Connection in a blender and you might come up with something that looks like American Gangster. Washington and Crowe are so good here that I can see both being brought up for Oscar nods for best actor. The supporting cast is just as good. The script by Shindler’s List scriber Steven Zaillian is a tremendous piece of work that gives the actors and director Ridley Scott an easy road map to work with. While almost three hours long, the pacing makes the time go by fast, although I would recommend the small drink so that you don’t have to take a bathroom break and miss any of this great film.
The Bad: This movie is almost perfect, until the last five minutes. If I could have left five minutes early, I would already be declaring my best film of the year choice in October. I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say that I was very disappointed in the way the ending was handled.
The Summary: In the world of crime thrillers, American Gangster will go down as a classic.