Monday, June 23, 2008

American Gangster

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.


pattinase (abbott) said...

My email got booted so I'm writing you here. I wonder if you'd like to recommend a forgotten children's books on July 4th. Just a line or two about it would be fine. Like maybe when you first read it. If you're too busy or don't like the idea, no sweat. Someone suggested this a few weeks ago and I'm not sure if it's going to fly or not. Patti

James Reasoner said...


I'd love to, and I already know what it'll be.

David Cranmer said...

James, I couldnt agree more. American Gangster passed the time and I did enjoy it but I felt like I had seen it all before. Interesting note: I read where a federal judge who was involved described the film as "1 percent reality and 99 percent Hollywood." The judge said the real life Lucas was "illiterate," "vicious," "violent," and "everything Denzel Washington was not." Of course when does Hollywood ever get it right anyway?

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I saw it and was unimpressed. The story seemed to tread water and the lead was rather wooden when he wasn't killing someone.