Thursday, November 15, 2007

Movie Review: American Gangster

Movie Title: American Gangster
Starring: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ted Levine, Carla Gugino, Josh Brolin, Cuba Gooding Jr., Armand Assante.
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Genre: Drama/Thriller
My Rating: 9/10

Based on a true story, Gangster stars Washington as a New York drug kingpin Frank Lucas. In the 1970's Lucas took advantage of the Vietnam War in progress by having drugs smuggled from southeast Asia to the US via military carriers. The protagonist started off as a driver to one of NY's top mob bosses, and built his own empire steadily after his boss died of a heart attack. Sporting a well-dressed, businessman-like demeanor, Lucas would kill in cold blood anyone who came in his way or his family's. Yet Lucas was a good family man and supported his entire extended kin from North Carolina.

Crowe, on the other hand, plays a no-nonsense New Jersey cop always equipped with a handyman's tools when investigating. A wrench one time, an ax another. Richie Roberts is "untouchable" - can not be bought over or bribed. Yet, he's no angel; putting his marriage, son and even ongoing divorce at the bottom of his priorities. Roberts is made head of an investigative team probing into the increasing drug traffic caused by Lucas' superior quality + half priced product called "Blue Magic."

Both these lead actors carried their roles and the movie as a whole just as brilliantly as they could. Their parallel stories were shared very well, even though they don't come face each other until the last 45 minutes of this long-yet-fast-paced movie. The supporting cast did their job decently as well. Carla Gugino looked good as Roberts' to-be ex-wife, Ted Levine fit his cameo as Crowe's boss, and Cuba Gooding Jr. looked old as Lucas' contemporary. The rappers did a decent job, it was just funny to see T.I. as Common's son in the movie. RZA played an undercover operative from Roberts' team. Armand Assante showed experience playing a mafia boss who befriends Lucas, and Josh Brolin played another crooked role of a corrupt NY cop who nobody really lied on either side of the law.

The direction was done with expertise, the pace makes you forget how time flew by, and the movie overall makes for a great Fall movie and one of the best released this year. I definitely see a few Oscar nods coming this way. Great job again, Ridley Scott. Bravo, Washington and Crowe!

9/10. Definitely a theater watch, definitely a keeper.

1 comment:

patrick said...

American Gangster reminds me yet again what a versatile actor Russel Crowe is… plus it's pretty clever how Ridley Scott makes us love the bad guy and dislike the good guy only to subtly flip that around by the end of the movie.