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American Gangster
11 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Ridley Scott

Written By:
Steven Zaillian, Mark Jacobson

Cast:
Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Ted Levine, Roger Guenveur Smith, John Hawkes, RZA, Yul Vazquez, Ruby Dee, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Carla Gugino, John Ortiz, Cuba Gooding Jr., Armand Assante, Joe Morton, Ritchie Coster, Bari K. Willerford, Idris Elba, Common, Kevin Corrigan, Jon Polito, Tom O'Rourke, Robert C. Kirk, Roger Bart, Eric Silver, Ric Young, Chuck Cooper, Chance Kelly, Sam Freed, Joey Klein, Monique Dupree, Malcolm Goodwin, Fab 5 Freddy, Albert Jones, Skyler Fortgang, Daniel Farcher, Kathleen Garrett, Quisha Saunders, Maurice Ballard, T.I., Warner Miller, J. Kyle Manzay, Melissia Hill, Robert Funaro, Tom Stearns, Mitchell Green, Connor Romero, Daniel Hilt, David Spearman, Lymari Nadal, Saycon Sengbloh

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American Gangster (2007)
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Movie Review by James
March 16th, 2020

Drugs are a primary source of controversy. On the one hand, they can be used to help people with certain medical conditions. But on the other hand, they can be used by the wrong individuals. Such is the case with the infamous drug smuggling cases all around the world. One such notable case involved a certain Frank Lucas in the late 60s and early 20s. This was used as the primary focus for the 2007 film "American Gangster", starring Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe, and directed by Ridley Scott. While the film only has a few minor setbacks, the rest of the movie is surprisingly good at how one of the most biggest drug cases went down. "American Gangster" is a thrilling experience you won't soon forget.

The story follows two important people during the late 1960s and early 1970s. These are Frank Lucas (Washington) and Richie Roberts (Crowe). One is a cool and sophisticated mobster, while the other is a detective working in New Jersey. Frank builds up his empire by selling heroin straight from the source, while Richie just wants to make the world a better place. Together, they must face the ever-growing concern of drugs in America, especially during the end of the Vietnam War.

"American Gangster" is one of those films where the attention grabs you right from the first minute.

At nearly two and a half hours, the entire movie is really engaging, and there never is a dull moment worth mentioning. This is all handled well by editor Pietro Scalia; he really nails the action down and the more intense dramatic moments as the film progresses. I am also aware of the nearly three hour extended cut, but as the movie stands, it's fine on its own accord.

This is also possible thanks in part to Steve Zallian writing the script. Loosely based on an article that detailed this incident, Zallian incorporates all of the necessary details into making a story that is very easy to follow, and with sharp dialogue to boot, "American Gangster" sets itself up as one of the best written crime movies of all time.

Plus, the setting could not have been more relatable. The production design really nails it on the head as everything is a throwback to the past. From the sets, to the costumes, to the props, everything looks and sounds great. Even the other editing is handled well; from the sound to the music, to pretty much everything else, "American Gangster" never looked and sounded so good.

But what really sells this feature are the performances. Both Washington and Crowe deliver extraordinary performances that excel their career into superstardom. Washington plays a bad guy with sophistication and ease, that he actually becomes a relatable character. Crowe, meanwhile, plays a cop who tries his hardest to find out what Frank is up to. This all culminates in direction from Ridley Scott who manages everything perfectly well that this just may be one of his best directed films.

Other than that, there are only a few minor setbacks towards this film. First, since this is based off of real events, a lot of the truth is manipulated, and there is a lot fictionalized accounts. This can lead to some plot holes and questions leaving unanswered. And finally, while the orchestrated score by Marc Streitenfeld is good as it does provide a good dramatic vision, a bit more songs could have worked towards the film's advantage. Possibly, a bit more hits of the area just to lighten the mood, but that's pretty much it.

Overall, "American Gangster" is a fascinating tale about two polar opposites that come together in one very great and nifty package that gives the viewer an insight into the past in the world of drugs.

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