This movie begins with a guy getting doused with gasoline, set on fire, and then shot multiple times at close range. After watching this opening, my daughter Joanna commented, “Well, it’s no BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” (which she had watched earlier in the day).
No, it’s certainly not. There’s a lot of bad ****in’ language, a ****load of **********in’ violence, a bunch of ********er’s shootin’ up, and numerous nekkid women. Other than that there’s really nothing objectionable in it.
AMERICAN GANGSTER is the story of Frank Lucas (played by Denzel Washington), who took over the drug trade in New York in the late Sixties by the simple means of going to Thailand and buying directly from the suppliers. Russell Crowe is Richie Roberts, an honest but otherwise messed-up cop from New Jersey who winds up trying to take down Lucas’s drug operation. It’s based on actual events, but as usual, I don’t know how much of the story was invented for the movie.
I do know that I enjoyed it, despite the fact that some of it is pretty unpleasant. This is a relentlessly old-fashioned movie that looks and feels like it could have been made in 1975. The pace is a little leisurely, but the acting is good all around, and at two-and-a-half hours, it definitely has an epic feel to it. I liked this considerably more than some other cops vs. gangsters movies that got a lot more acclaim. (cough* THE DEPARTED *cough) It’s well worth your time if all that cussin’ and killin’ and dopin’ doesn’t bother you.