When you hear Denzel and Crowe are in the same movie, it sounds like a showdown for the ages, like DeNiro taking on Pacino, but American Gangster never gives you that amazing explosion you might be expecting (kind of like when DeNiro and Pacino got together in Heat). It’s just a solid film instead of being legendary, which is nothing to be ashamed of.
Washington stars as Frank Lucas – an ambitious crime lord in
late 1960’s and
Will Richie be able to put Frank in jail? Will the corrupt cops or Mafia get to one of them first?
American Gangster is a good film, even a very good film, but doesn’t quite live up to the hype. However, that fact doesn’t make the movie a failure.
Director Ridley Scott and writer Steve Zaillian (based on a New Yorker article by Mark Jacobson) do a very good job giving us plenty of information about Roberts and Lucas, showing each one rising through the ranks of his respective profession, but American Gangster takes a while to get going. I like how Scott is trying to show the parallel rise of Roberts and Lucas, as well as contrast the glamorous and rich lifestyle of the criminal versus the working class struggles of the lawman, but we don’t get into the battle between them until later in the film. It’s a movie that needs more complexity, intrigue, action, danger and energy a little bit earlier. We know these two are on a collision course, so let’s get on the path a bit sooner.
Sadly, one of the biggest surprises in the movie, and one Scott tries to build up to throughout the film, is something you probably already know if you have seen one interview, one commercial or heard one piece of the Frank Lucas story. Scott tries to work up to a “shocking” revelation of how Frank gets the heroin into the country, but most of us already know, so it’s not as shocking as it should be. I guess Scott didn’t realize this would be such public knowledge this early into the film’s run, but he got a bit burned by it.
The last 10 – 15 minutes takes away from American Gangster no matter how true it might be, but it doesn’t ruin the movie.3 Waffles (Out of 4)
American Gangster is rated R for violence, pervasive drug content and language, nudity and sexuality.
Copyright 2007 - WaffleMovies.com