American Gangster (2007)

One of the best films of 2007, this is Ridley Scott’s absorbing take on the crime saga.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review #246

Dir. Ridley Scott
2007 | USA | Biography/Crime/Drama | 157 mins | 1.85:1 | English

M18 (passed clean) for violence, pervasive drug content and language, nudity and sexuality

Cast: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Ruby Dee
Plot: 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.
Awards: Nom. for 2 Oscars – Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction
Distributor: United International Pictures

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Slightly Mature – Organised Crime; Drugs
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: In Theatres
First Published: 31 Dec 2007
Spoilers: No

American Gangster nitpicks on the ugly life of a mobster, rather than paint a romanticised portrait of one. Denzel Washington plays Frank Lucas, a black real-life drug criminal, who was released from prison nearly two decades ago.  

If not for his Oscar-winning feat in Training Day (2001), Washington could have been the strong frontrunner for the Best Actor category this year.  He can be calm one minute, and then blow someone’s head off the next.  Only he could have firmly nailed down such a volatile character.

“The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.”

Russell Crowe has to be contented with a supporting role.  He excels in being a moody police detective who goes by his own rule of thumb when solving crimes, a flashback to the days of L.A. Confidential (1997).  

The cinematography is attractive, with great shots of 1970s America that recollect films produced in that era.  The repertoire of songs used is diverse, and the original soundtrack by newcomer Marc Streitenfeld shows that he just might be the next big thing in film music.  

American Gangster is an absorbing crime saga and one of 2007’s best pictures.

Grade: A-




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