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American Gangster 2007

In 1970s America, a detective works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas, a heroin kingpin from Manhattan, who is smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East...

Release Date:
November 1, 2007, UTC
157 min
Ridley Scott
Enrique Sebastian Rivas, Louis Rosario, Luis Salgado, ...
Drama, Crime, Biography ...

Your rating:0

Solar rating:8.8


Imdb rating:7.8

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An overt attempt at 70s noir atmosphere does not ruin an otherwise entertaining--but too long, but also somehow too short--"biopic" about notorious heroin dealer/gangster Frank Lucas (a sensational Denzel Washington). Although the film lacks a firm grasp of what made Lucas tick, a point which could have been mitigated by a bit more back story (see the NYT article upon which the movie was based to fill in the gaps), the film does not lack serious interest quotient.

As Lucas, Washington proves (once again) that he is an actor of the first order. From his confident walk to his chilled demeanor when disposing of unnecessaries, Washington is a panopoly of emotions--conveyed by as little as a lip sneer.

The plot traces Lucases ascension from driver of notorious Harlem kingpin Bumpy Johnson to his iron fisted rule of the same section of New York once Johnson succumbs to a heart attack.

Intermingling with athletic luminaries such as Wilt Chamberlain, and crossing paths with high end politicians, famous actors, and beauty queens, Lucas is well within his element. This is the station that he has worked so hard for, but the manner with which he has attained so much is not for the weak stomached.

Heavily conscienced Richie Roberts, who turns in a million dollars worth of unmarked bills, is the clean officer tagged to bring down the drug corpus. Russell Crow is great as Roberts, slouched and hot tempered--perhaps playing a bit of himself. But it doesn't take away from the fact that he and Washington own the film, and bring out the best in one another...even though they share very few scenes.

Be forewarned, director Ridley Scott rolls out the action like he has all day to make his point. While the tempo becomes necessarily bogged down, there is something to be learned about choices, and drive--even when the protagonist maneuvers both into a filthy rich institution that is emotive, and hopeless.
Tuesday night was the night of awesome movies. I watched American Gangster, The Green Mile and Alien. All fantastic movies with great characters and compelling stories. I was blown away by Gangster and it's easily one of the best movies of 2007. As for the other two, they're both great films that are memorable in two completely different ways. I love all three of them.

I watched Ransom again because it's been awhile and I like that movie a lot. Pretty smart and genuinely thrilling. I give it an 8/10.

And Dan in Real Life was less than stellar with few laughs (but what laughs there are made me laugh pretty hard) and some annoying characters (namely his middle daughter) and a lame love story that ultimately didn't explain Dane Cook's demise after his brother screws him over. I thought it was extremely mediocre at best. 5/10 is being nice.
This lasts 2 hours and a half, but you will NOT be bored for even a second of that long running time. American Gangster is a highly effective, perfectly-acted crime drama, and likely to be on my top 10 list for this year (though probably not at the top of the list). While I'm not sure how fair it is to compare it to The Departed, if we MUST do it, then I'll say that American Gangster doesn't reach the point of engrossing awesomeness that The Departed did, but it's still very close. Denzel Washington in particular deserves recognition for his work here.
This movie had so much pushing it up, from the 2 stars who had both won academy awards before to its director and producer who have also won academy awards. Typically I find these type of movies that are so hyped up have a bit of a let down and don't meet expectations.

This movie is one of the few exceptions as it combined great performances, settings and overall production. This film never seemed too long and kept me interested from start to finish. Its story line was excellent and was never predictable.

I would strongly recommend this film to anyone regardless of their interests as it would leave a very strong impression on viewers.
Quick Review

Oscar worthy performances from both Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe make this immensely entertaining Crime Drama one of the years best films. Being known as The Black Scarface and The Harlem Godfather, "American Gangster" explodes with action, keeping the audience at the edge of their seat until it's brilliant ending. Just be prepared for a very long, but fast-paced film. 4.5/5

Full review not available.
Don't miss it! The story builds from two directions and ultimately comes together in the end. I really enjoyed this movie & you will too. I grew up on Long Island, NY so for me, seeing the background on the drug trade/dirty cop scene of the 70's was enlightening. Go for it!!
Can't believe the last time I put up any reviews was since Good Luck Chuck. Here are 5 quick reviews for 5 movies that I have seen since then.


The Heartbreak Kid (2007)

American Gangster might easily be the best gangster movie that I have seen since Casino or Goodfellas. Some may call this one the new Godfather or Scarface, but American Gangster is in a league of its own which tells you a lot. I wouldn't say that it's better than The Godfather, but it's definitely a tad bit better than Scarface. The movie feels so real from beginning to end. The performances from both Denzel Washington & Russell Crowe are definitely some of the best, if not the best of 2007. Director Ridley Scott is on top of his game here & will probably win the Oscar next year. If you haven't checked this one out, I recommend that you do so soon. It is easily one of the best movies of the year, if not the best.

One of 2007's best films. Washington and Crowe both deserve Oscar nominations for their performances. An expertly crafted film and an extremely interesting story.
A good film. Crowe and Washington are both stellar actors, and their performances are electric. However, I feel that the film is a little too safe. Does safe work? I guess what I mean is that this film is typical Oscar-bait. A sprawling 2 hour and 40 minute epic starring two big hollywood actors, a period piece, beautifully shot. Those are not bad qualitites, but it does not make for a very challenging film. Again, this is a very entertaining piece of work, and Ridley Scott is a good director, but it's not a great film.
a lot of talking and no action. the departed was much better than this.
Deciding to have a nice, relaxing weekend spent at home, I rented a couple of movies, and took the old man to see one. First, the rentals,

So, I finally got to see Knocked Up. Since everyone and their mother has seen it, it's probably pointless for me to expound greatly on its merits. It's got that sweet center surrounded by a vulgar shell, but most importantly, it's hilarious. Remember when the Farrelly brothers used to make GOOD movies? Well, neither do I, but Judd Apatow has raised the stakes with his string of hits lately (this, 40-Year-Old Virgin, Superbad). It's nice to see a romcom that has fully realized characters, genuine laughs, and plot developments that aren't wholly contrived.

Demi Moore is not a badass. She needs to learn this. And screenwriters should learn to pare down complex stories. Mr. Brooks, starring Kevin Costner (cool), William Hurt (awesome), Dane Cook (blech), and Moore (eh), actually holds some promise in 2 of its 3 main ideas Unfortunately, I have no idea why the third one is even part of the story. maybe the producers felt Demi Moore needed a job.

Costner is the title character, an upstanding man of the community who harbors a terrible secret: He's the Thumb Print Killer. Hurt plays his alter ego, existing only in his mind. He's caught by Cook who doesn't want to turn him in. Rather, he wants to learn to be a killer. Interesting premise.

Costner's daughter comes home after dropping out of school. In a moment of obvious foreshadowing, she tells her daddy how she wants be learn the family business and thus has no real use for college. I won't spoil much, but this turns out to be another interesting premise.

The third story line involves Moore as the detective huting down Costner. She's worth $60 million because of an inheritance, going through a nasty divorce, and is being hunted by an escaped killer she helped put away. This leads to two laughable action sequences that are completely out of place with the rest of the movie.

Take these 3 separate movies, stir, and get this mess.

And now, the theater:

Ridley Scott's American Gangster should be studied in basic economic classes. It's the story of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a former driver for crime figure Bumpy Johnson who takes over the Harlem drug outfit by simply doing it better than everyone else. He ingeniously cuts his costs and increases his quality and quickly leaves his competition in the dust. Lucas could have easily been Sam Walton had he opened a discount superstore rather than sell heroin.

On the other side is Richie Roberts played by Russell Crowe. He's a great cop, smart and honest. His only mistake on the force is turning in a million dollars in unmarked bills, rather than taking it for himself. As good as he is at his job, he's just as bad as a family man. He doesn't see his kid, his wife is leaving him, he womanizes, and his childhood friend is in the mafia.

And touches like this are what make the movie so compelling. Yes, the wife leaving the work-focused husband is cliche, but Roberts is genuinely a bad husband, so we sort of sympathize with her. On the flip side, Lucas is such a great family man, and does so much to help the community in Harlem, we almost forget what a monster he is. And Scott and screenwriter Steve Zaillian won't let us forget. Whether it's seeing him light an adversary on fire, coldly killing a man in broad daylight, or glimpses of the effects his drugs are having on the community, we are reminded often enough that Lucas is a bad guy.

It's great to watch a movie where everyone is at the top of their game. Scott, a director with great visual flair, let's the script and setting set the tone. Washington and Crowe are terrific as well, giving performances that are among their best. Washington may have won an Oscar playing a bad guy in Training Day, but here is a real performance. No showboating, no over-the-top "King Kong" speeches. Just a character that's for the most part warm and loving, but cold, calculating, and vicious when necessary.

And you know you're in the hands of a gifted screenwriter when a character has just unknowingly set up his own downfall, because he loves his wife so much, he breaks his own rule of laying low. And when this moment comes with about an hour to go, we know how everything is going to end. We've seen this story a thousand times. Just rarely done this well.
Full Review Coming Soon...

Exact Rating
8.3 out of 10.0


Review: In an age of overstuffed and mega-hyped, techno-wizardry, where studios compete to bring audiences the most appealing eye-candy, it's always a pleasure to receede to the era of 70's filmmaking, where a film is centered around substance, rather than appearance. American Gangster is, without a doubt, well-crafted and thouroughly engaging. Denzel Washington's volatile performance is a suitable change in pace, his sudden fits of rage bone-chilling. Crowe is also respectable, though the focus seems one-sided in favor of Washington. Dialogue-driven and raw, with several frightening boom-thwap executions and a riveting shoot 'em up climax, the excitement is palpable. Yet, even in this dynamic setting, which travels across oceans, the period never comes alive. The focus is too tightly wound around the drug-trade, rather than the era which dealt with it. And without much to distinguish itself as a period-piece, American Gangster becomes, bluntly, a stockroom-mob-movie. A well-made, but achingly generic ode to the genre Scorcese made his own...

The first half of "American Gangster" is exceptionally good pulp fiction. Sure it's simplistic, but it's directed and acted with such verve and style that you can't help but be drawn in.

To my surprise, the second half got quite long and drawn out. I looked at my watch impatiently a number of times. The major weakness in this portion of the film was the editing. With some tightening there, the film could have been one of the best pulp movies of the decade. As it is, I'd say it's one of the better ones and leave it at that. Once again a film is weakened by poor editing. This is such an essential piece of the filmmaking enterprise, and I feel it has become the Achilles heel of American cinema in our epoch. We have to open up a national dialogue on editing. But I'll save that for another article.

There is something in "American Gangster" that particularly stands out. It represents a big step forward in terms of bringing together black and white fans of pulp fiction. Typically an American film appeals to either one or the other fan base. "American Gangster" appeals to both. While the director (Ridley Scott) is white, Mr.Scott must have gotten a tremendous amount of advice from a black creative team, because the film breathes with a black Harlem authenticity that you rarely see in a white-directed film.

But let's not get too excited about this achievement, because we're still talking about pretty dumb pulp fiction. I don't imagine anyone who knows anything about art would call this film a significant work of art. It will appeal to fans of "Scarface," not fans of "The Godfather;" let's be crystal-clear about that.

I love Ridley Scott's method of simple compare/contrast in American Gangster. We see both characters slowly building momentum in their career. One is a Jewish officer too honest for his own good and the other is a black crime lord who is beyond the mafia. There is even an economic discussion throughout concerning trademarks, eliminating the middle man, and inevitable supply and demand for criminal activity. All of this, and it's based on a true story. This is damn entertaining film-making.

Gone Baby Gone is an adaptation of the novel from the author who wrote Mystic River. This movie feels less manipulative. The author has a style of writing about Boston and children who are victims of crime. It is noir and drama in the same shot. Ben Affleck directs this with urgency and heart and his younger brother Casey continues his streak of great acting (see him even better in The Assasination of Jesse James.) There is a question posed of whether is the things we choose or do not choose that will ultimately define us. Given the last shot of the movie, I think the later is the believed answer here.

For those of you who thought Vin Diesel cannot act, consider yourself proven wrong again. With his breakout performance in Boiler Room, Vin brings redeems his earlier movie choices (similarly to Ben Affleck) in Find Me Guilty. He plays a charming, laid back man accused of being part of a mafia. Having been found guilty in other charges, he has nothing to lose if convicted. However, he claims he loves his friends too much to let them hang. He makes a circus of what might be an otherwise dull and by-the-numbers court room drama. I was surprised this could even be SLIGHTLY based on a true story. Is this movie asking me to worship someone I shouldn't - probably. But here is a man who is fighting to save friends and his own honor. He knows his guilt, but he demands the truth be heard in this room. That truth is he is not as bad as the prosecution would have them think, nor are the good guys as good as they like to think. There is a rule in law that you should not point a finger if you do not have clean hands. The government may try to play off there is no other way, but it becomes obvious his accusers can no longer take the high road.
American Gangster (2007 dir. Ridley Scott): 9/10

American Gangster is nothing more than the black version of The Godfather. Minus the violence and swearing. Come on, its set in Harlem and theres no way they lived that mildy even if it is set in the late 60's, early 70's. No good acting except for Washington & Crow. Very slow at the start and don't pick up much later in the movie. It's not worth the time or money.

I'm writing these two reviews several weeks after seeing the movies, so there won't be much detail.

American Gangster is a movie I end up seeing just because someone else wants to see it. Sometimes those movies surprise me. But this turned out to be exactly what I expected. It was OK, but nothing exceptional. I've already begun to forget all about it. The biggest problem was that American Gangster was way too long. There were at least three different points when I thought it was ending, but it did not. Eventually, this became tiresome. As far as gangster movies go, there are much better predecessors. This won't cut their ranks. If you love gangster films then you might enjoy this. Otherwise, it's nothing special.
This movie strives for and achieves utter film-making mediocrity. No deep characters, no interesting relationships, nothing new and interesting, a shell of a gangster movie. Its like goodfellas without Joe Pesci or the Godfather without Sonny. Still a movie, just without a soul
A good show if you like gangster/cop shows. A little boring in spots. Well acted and filmed just not my kind of show. I still give it a thumbs up but if your like me you might want to watch it on video where you can hit pause and take a break because it is a long film.
This is definitely "full price plus popcorn"!

Denzel Washington is so magnetic and his character is unbelievably fascinating. Russel Crowe is also pretty good although I couldn't get too much into his character. The attention to detail to bring the Vietnam Era back to life I thought was fantastic (although I have no idea how accurate myself).

I was just riveted the entire time and really really really didn't want it to end (by the way I thought the ending was great.)

It is one of those movies you want to keep thinking about for a couple days afterward.
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