American Gangster is one of those movies that I wish I didn’t love. It’s not particularly edifying and it contains a lot of nudity. At least it wasn’t Eastern Promises nudity, and for that I’m thankful.
It’s the true story of a self-made 1970s drug lord who rose to the top and fell right back down to the bottom, and ended up somewhere in the middle after all was said and done. It’s 50% Blow and 50% Goodfellas. What a great combination! Alright let’s get to it.
Denzel Washington really only plays one character: the oppressed, strong-willed black man who seems to be the good guy even when he’s playing the villain. Let me just put this out there and you can disagree in the comments. This is Denzel’s best theatrical performance besides Training Day.
Russell Crow is perfect as the in-over-his-head New York detective. He’s a good cop amidst a sea of bad cops, but he’s not necessarily a good man as the back story between he and his wife presents. He tries to be a good man, but he lets his job take over his life, which is why he’s able to succeed in cracking a huge case against all odds that runs deeper then anyone imagined.
Based on a true story, the plot is excellent and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Anyone that loves mob movies will surely love this fresh addition to the beloved genre. If some of the powerful chill-rendering scenes from The Godfather, Casino, and Goodfellas get your juices flowing, don’t take your eyes away from the screen at the part where Denzel is having breakfast with all of his brothers and excuses himself to take care of an overdue matter down the street. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it happened, and I couldn’t believe a director would have the audacity to create this absolutely amazing and terrifying scene.
I felt shocked, appalled, and drawn to the film all at the same time, and it was at that moment that I knew I was a fan of this movie.
Also, the last scene of the film where he emerges from prison after 17 years into a foreign 1990s Harlem as opposed to the familiar 1970s Harlem from whence he came really was a powerful scene and made me think.
They could have achieved the same level of film-making without a lot of the harsh violence and nudity, and for that I dock this movie a few points. It’s not that it was overly violent (it was no Casino), but it still didn’t need some of the junk that was thrown into the mix. I really really wanted my wife to watch this movie with me because it is such a good story, but I’m afraid I’m not going to recommend it to her due to some of the scenes. And apparently there’s an uncut version that I haven’t even seen – what could they have possibly cut from this movie?
Acting – no beratings
Plot – no beratings
Inconsistencies – no beratings
Unbelievable Events – 1 berating
I know it’s based on a true story, but I need to see evidence that tens of thousands of kilos of heroine could be imported from Vietnam so easily. If I do see such evidence I will stand corrected.
Schematics – 1 berating
Too much nudity. Come on, who really wants to see 50 naked women manufacturing heroine in an apartment building? Don’t answer that.
2/10 Berating = See it at full price
0/10 Stand in line for the very first showing
1/10 See it the first weekend
>> 2/10 See it at full price
3/10 See it at the Five-Buck-Club
4/10 See it at the dollar-fifty
5/10 See it OnDemand
6/10 Rent it from Blockbuster
7/10 Watch it on TV
8/10 Watch it purely for spousal points
9/10 Never watch it
10/10 Buy it and publicly destroy it