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American Gangster (2007)

tomatometer

80

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

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

77

Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 47
Fresh: 36 | Rotten: 11

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

audience

87

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 959,207

My Rating

Movie Info

Director Ridley Scott spins this yarn concerning a Harlem drug kingpin (Denzel Washington) who smuggles heroin into the country by hiding it in the bodies of U.S. soldiers killed during battle in Vietnam. There was a time when no one noticed reserved driver Frank Lucas (Washington), but when the criminal kingpin he was charged with transporting through the city streets suddenly dies, Lucas seizes the opportunity to build his own criminal empire. In the following months, Lucas solidifies his

R,

Drama

Steven Zallian

Feb 19, 2008

$130.1M

Universal Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (209) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (167) | Rotten (42) | DVD (22)

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

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: NPR.org
NPR.org
Top Critic IconTop 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.

November 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

November 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Film.com
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop 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.

November 5, 2007 Full Review Source: Newsweek | Comments (2)
Newsweek
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

November 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

November 2, 2007 Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Comments (3)
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop 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.

November 3, 2012 Full Review Source: TheShiznit.co.uk
TheShiznit.co.uk

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.

July 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Digital Spy
Digital Spy

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

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
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

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

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

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
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.

February 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Fayetteville Free Weekly | Comments (2)
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.

May 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Watertown Daily Times
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.

May 1, 2008 Full Review Source: MSNBC | Comment (1)

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

March 4, 2008 Full Review Source: The Scorecard Review
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.

February 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Colorado Springs Gazette
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 | Comments (2)
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.

February 12, 2008 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

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

February 3, 2008 Full Review Source: I.E. Weekly
I.E. Weekly

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

January 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena | Comment (1)
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.

January 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

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

January 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Washington Times
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.

January 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Hollywood Report Card
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

January 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

Audience Reviews for American Gangster

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.
May 23, 2013
garyX
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
December 7, 2012
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.
September 18, 2012
Eric Alvarez

Super Reviewer

The great director Ridley Scott has three masterpieces behind his belt: Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator. He can now add a fourth to that list: American Gangster.
Besides another great performance by Denzel Washington, not to mention the incredible supporting actors he has to work with like Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Arman Assante, and Cuba Gooding Jr., the film is a wholly original gangster picture. Denzel's performance is not to be understated however. His fans will get everything they watch the actor for; the smooth talk, the mannerisms, the bad ass stare, the yelling, and the cool demeanour. But like his best roles, he turns Frank Lucas into a fully realized character, a flawed but wholly sympathetic one.
The story focuses on how Frank Lucas was able to make more money than the Mafia through good business decisions. This film could almost be taught in economics classes, except for the fact that Lucas' product is heroine. Image, and an honest living giving back to the community were what helped Lucas get ahead, stay ahead for as long as he did, and never get backstabbed.
The film smartly contrasts his life with Richie Roberts (Crowe), who may stand for what's right, but doesn't impact his community the way Lucas does. Lucas isn't Scarface, nor is he Michael Corleone. He went a diferent way, which makes his story just as important as the others.
Ridley's production team successfully and accurately re-creates a gritty, realistic view of Harlem in the 1970s. They also don't shy away from showing what Lucas' product is doing to addicts. There's no denying that Frank Lucas does bad things. But given the world he grew up in, he did what he could to survive, and survive he did.
Note: I prefer the theatrical version to the unrated cut. I believe that Ridley made the edits for the theatrical cut for a reason and the additions interrupt the pacing and don't add any more depth to the already perfect narrative.
May 19, 2012
MovieGeek13

Super Reviewer

    1. 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 (8 months ago)
    1. Frank Lucas: There's your 20 percent.
    – Submitted by Eli T (13 months ago)
    1. 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)
    1. Chinese General: Quitting when you are ahead is not the same as quitting.
    – Submitted by Nandu J (2 years ago)
    1. Frank Lucas: Even a fool gets to be young once.
    – Submitted by Alexandar T (2 years ago)
    1. Richie Roberts: It was the right thing to do.
    – Submitted by Félix C (2 years ago)
View all quotes (9)

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  • Gánster americano (ES)
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