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American Gangster (2007)


Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 209
Fresh: 167
Rotten: 42

Critics Consensus: American Gangster is a gritty and entertaining throwback to classic gangster films, with its lead performers firing on all cylinders.

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 48
Fresh: 37
Rotten: 11

Critics Consensus: American Gangster is a gritty and entertaining throwback to classic gangster films, with its lead performers firing on all cylinders.


Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 960,141


Movie Info

Nobody used to notice Frank Lucas, the quiet driver to one of the inner city's leading black crime bosses. But when his boss suddenly dies, Frank exploits the opening in the power structure to build his own empire and create his own version of the American Dream. Through ingenuity and a strict business ethic, he comes to rule the inner-city drug trade, flooding the streets with a purer product at a better price. Lucas outplays all of the leading crime syndicates and becomes not only one of the … More

R (for violence, pervasive drug content and language, nudity and sexuality)
Directed By:
Written By:
Steven Zallian
In Theaters:
Feb 19, 2008
Box Office:
Universal Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for American Gangster

All Critics (209) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (167) | Rotten (42) | DVD (22)

Ridley Scott's gangster flick aims high and mostly measures up.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

Like much of his oeuvre, Scott's scaled-up movie is bigger than life - and lesser for it. But while never digging deeply or darkly enough to match its own grand vision of itself, slick technique drives the story forward with pace and style.

Full Review… | November 14, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

How much truth we get in the movie version is hard to say...nobody much cares if it's gospel, as long as it's riveting. Here, alas, it is not.

Full Review… | November 6, 2007
Top Critic

For all its grit, style and atmosphere, Gangster never sweeps you away. It has neither the lurid bravado of De Palma's "Scarface" nor the intimate grasp of the criminal lifestyle you find in Scorsese or Coppola.

Full Review… | November 5, 2007
Top Critic

Washington's steely grip on his impersonation of Frank Lucas holds the film together.

Full Review… | November 2, 2007
Top Critic

Ridley Scott's listless Big Statement is a wheezy, hot air-inflated dud.

Full Review… | November 2, 2007
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Though it's certainly admirable to aim high, it's like Frank Lucas himself says: "Either you're somebody, or you ain't nobody." Unfortunately for American Gangster, it ends up somewhere between the two.

Full Review… | November 3, 2012

It's 157 minutes long, but immerses its audience with its twists and intricacies as it plays out and considers the logistics and consequences of crime and police corruption, with a plethora of show-stealing performances from the cast.

Full Review… | July 14, 2011
Digital Spy

American Gangster is an epic, true crime drama, that although not entirely original in its premise is excellent in its execution.

Full Review… | July 7, 2010
Matt's Movie Reviews

Flattened by Scott's cardboard evocation of New York in the '70s, Zaillian's shallow criticism of corrupting power, and weirdly bloodless performances

Full Review… | August 27, 2009

File this one under "American Oscar Wanna-Be."

Full Review… | April 23, 2009
Boston Phoenix

When American Gangster was announced, with actors Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott, it seemed like a can't miss project. It missed.

Full Review… | February 2, 2009
Fayetteville Free Weekly

Washington may have not wanted to glorify the Harlem drug dealer, but with his superb acting skills he has created one of the coolest gangsters since Tony Montana.

Full Review… | May 20, 2008
Watertown Daily Times

Telling a true story doesn't excuse a filmmaker from making his movie stand out from the many others that have traversed similar ground.

Full Review… | May 1, 2008

It feels familiar, even Washington's performance of real-life Frank Lucas feels like something we've seen before.

Full Review… | March 4, 2008
The Scorecard Review

It isn't that American Gangster is an empirically bad film or is even unenjoyable. But don't be surprised if, when you walk out of the theater, you forget the film ever existed.

Full Review… | February 28, 2008
Colorado Springs Gazette

Inflated talk of American Gangster as a modern masterpiece--or even an Oscar-worthy picture--ignores the fact that there's not a single memorable setpiece in the film.

February 19, 2008
Groucho Reviews

Best of all, there are top-flight performances from both Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe who create interesting, rounded characters out of potential clichés.

Full Review… | February 12, 2008
At the Movies (Australia)

Scott's not interested in fireworks but small implosions of the soul and ego.

Full Review… | February 3, 2008
I.E. Weekly

Um filme envolvente que representa mais um alto na carreira repleta de baixos do instável Ridley Scott.

Full Review… | January 25, 2008
Cinema em Cena

Un policial de ritmo tenso y constante, que contrasta a dos personalidades bastante similares a ambos lados de la ley, mientras se deslizan críticas hacia la corrupción política, policial y militar que permite la existencia del narcotráfico.

Full Review… | January 20, 2008
Uruguay Total

American Gangster delivers fine drama, gripping performances and a dizzy morality tale. But it should have been oh, so much better.

Full Review… | January 19, 2008
Washington Times

This initially hokey 70's-TV-style production determinedly matures into a motion picture with cinematic impact. Happily, climax/resolution detour from others in the genre.

Full Review… | January 18, 2008
Hollywood Report Card

Ridley Scott forgets that editing is an art form as well

January 14, 2008

anabionei maestrika to gkangksteriko drama palaias kopis, aporriptontas tis spasmodikes eksarseis bias ki ekrikseon, alla horis na krybei ta akonismena dontia poy deihnei sto dolofoniko tis ksekinima, poy ksekatharizei akribos ti eidoys gangster einai o A

Full Review… | January 14, 2008
Movies for the Masses

Audience Reviews for American Gangster

Review of the unrated extended version coming to

Alexander Diminiano

Super Reviewer

American Gangster tells of the rise of 70s Harlem drug baron Denzel Washington and the efforts of crusading detective Russell Crowe to bring him to justice. Once again Ridley Scott proves he is one of the best directors working today, brilliantly bringing the Harlem of the period to life and essentially telling two tales in tandem in an intelligent and always entertaining way. Denzel is always better in his shadier roles, and this for me has to be one of his best. It does not have the grit and intensity of Scorsese's gangster pieces and the action/violence is sparse. It's more in the vein of something like Infernal affairs or a 70s version of The Wire in its treatment of the story and Scott's pacing is spot on, as the film despite its two and three quarter hour length never drags. The climactic shoot out is brilliantly done, delivered by Scott in a way you know his brother is completely incapable of; his version probably would have been an unwatchably choppy hallucinogenic migraine. It would have been nice to see Crowe and Washington share the screen a little more, but otherwise it delivered on every level. It doesn't challenge the classics, such as The Godfather or Goodfellas, but more than holds its own against other heavyweights such as Donnie Brasco and The Departed.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Ridley Scott develops a masterpiece to be enshrined historically as a magnificent crime/drama classic. American Gangster provides what is to be expected of the obvious title: violence, drugs, and a daring story. The film is also given an extra push by its groundbreaking cast, especially Washington & Crowe. 4/5

Eugene Bernabe
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer

Another great film starring Denzel. It has a good amount of violence (if that kind of thing matters to you), and a great story line. If you like movies such as Scarface and The Godfather, then this is a good movie to watch within that genre.

Eric Alvarez
Eric Alvarez

Super Reviewer

American Gangster Quotes

Dominic Cattano:
Success. It?s got enemies. You can be successful and have enemies or you can be unsuccessful and have friends.
– Submitted by Caesar M (14 months ago)
Frank Lucas:
There's your 20 percent.
– Submitted by Eli T (19 months ago)
Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson:
This is the problem. This is what's wrong with America. It's gotten so big, you just can't find your way. The grocery store on the corner is now a supermarket. The candy store is a McDonald's. And this place, a super-fucking discount store. Where's the pride of ownership, huh? Where's the personal service? You see what I mean? Shit. I mean, what right do they have, of cutting out the suppliers, pushing out all the middlemen, buying direct from the manufacturer? Sony this, Toshiba that. All them Chinks putting Americans out of work. That's the way it is now. You can't find the heart of anything to stick the knife.
– Submitted by Patrick D (2 years ago)
Chinese General:
Quitting when you are ahead is not the same as quitting.
– Submitted by Nandu J (2 years ago)
Frank Lucas:
Even a fool gets to be young once.
– Submitted by Alexandar T (3 years ago)
Richie Roberts:
It was the right thing to do.
– Submitted by Félix C (3 years ago)

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