Nov 062007
 

American GangsterNobody used to notice Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), the quiet driver to one of the inner city’s leading black crime bosses. But when his boss suddenly dies, Frank exploits the opening in the power structure to build his own empire and create his own version of the American Dream. He comes to rule the inner-city drug trade, flooding the streets with a purer product at a better price. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an outcast cop close enough to the streets to feel a shift of control in the drug underworld. Roberts believes someone is climbing the rungs above the known Mafia families and starts to suspect that a black power player has come from nowhere to dominate the scene.

Director:
Ridley Scott

Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cast:
Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Lymari Nadal, Ted Levine, Roger Guenveur Smith, John Hawkes, RZA, Yul Vazquez, Malcolm Goodwin, Ruby Dee

Lay and I went to set “We Own the Night” Sunday night at Westshore. We arrived to find the parking lot nearly empty, so we rightly assumed that American Gangster might not be packed. So that’s what we watched.

This movie was long, but Anyone who has every seen a Ridley Scott film will know that his films are long. (Blade Runner, A Good Year, Matchstick Men, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, all ran for at least two hours or more.) Scott didn’t set out to film another scarface, he set out to tell a story not just about Frank Lucas but rather a tale of corruption and how pervasive it is. There were a number of subplots, but they all played to the overarching theme of the movie. I never felt tired or bored, and the movie moved along at a nice clip.

This was a great biopic of New York gangster Frank Lucas, who I knew nothing about. The film shows Lucas’s relationship with the Italian Mafia perfectly, giving you almost a two way view of the city’s underworld. Denzel Washington excels at the part as Lucas, and Russell Crowe as the cop out to get him is excellent. Crowe does well portraying a cop out to just do his job but can’t do it for the corruption all around him. It’s a film about Lucas’ rise to fame in New York’s Heroin business, and his fall due to both Crowe and police persistence.

With many gangster films, you are always put off by either the acting or the story. But here this is not the case with this story. You have a true story that does not mask Lucas’s violent life but rather portrays it as a life of both murder and violence. It does not glamorize his life, and the story is and characters are well-developed but understated, despite the over-the-top lifestyles that had to be sometimes depicted. Crowe and Washington play well off each other.

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