American Gangster

Critics Consensus

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

81%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 216

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 963,179

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Movie Info

Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) earns his living as a chauffeur to one of Harlem's leading mobsters. After his boss dies, Frank uses his own ingenuity and strict business code to become one of the inner city's most powerful crime bosses. Meanwhile, veteran cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) senses a change in the mob's power structure and looks for ways to bring his opponent to justice.

Cast & Crew

Russell Crowe
Richie Roberts
Josh Brolin
Detective Trupo
Ted Levine
Lou Toback
Armand Assante
Dominic Cattano
RZA
Moses Jones
John Ortiz
Javier J. Rivera
John Hawkes
Freddie Spearman
Steven Zaillian
Screenwriter
Nicholas Pileggi
Executive Producer
Steven Zaillian
Executive Producer
Branko Lustig
Executive Producer
James Whitaker
Executive Producer
Michael Costigan
Executive Producer
Harris Savides
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for American Gangster

Critic Reviews for American Gangster

All Critics (216) | Top Critics (64) | Fresh (174) | Rotten (42)

Audience Reviews for American Gangster

  • Feb 25, 2016
    Even based on true events most films like this like to add more action in places but Ridley Scott focuses less on the action side on more on the story telling side, And it is told very well, With a very strong cast lead by Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe who were both fantastic, It doesn't drag as much as you think given the running time but maybe sparkles of action wouldn't of gone a miss, Having said that the ending was good and the whole tone of the film was great too, It's far from you average American drug gang films but it's up there with the best.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer
  • Aug 20, 2013
    If it's a true story chances are a film studio will adapted it to the big screen regardless of the material. Some of these true stories have gone to become classic films while other serving as an insult. American Gangster is in the middle ground taking an interesting story and downplaying it to fiction without anything separating it from being another fictional crime film. American Gangster is set in 1970s America, a detective works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas, a heroin kingpin from Manhattan, who is smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East. The plot is fabricated so do not go into this expecting an accurate presentation of the actual events. The fictionalized version of the story is prone to questionable decisions. For example, in the film officer Richie Roberts is in a custody battle with his recently divorced wife. Now the real life Richie Roberts never had any kids and in the film Robert being a father serves the plot no purpose being toss aside in favor of taking down Lucas empire for a large portion of the film. Choices like these distract from the flow of the film padding out a story that doesn't need filler. Because of this many important characters it introduces into the fold of either sides never come into fruition. Moving the plot forward, but serving no great purpose in the whole picture. It's straight forward linear structure sadly does it no favor playing out exactly playing out like a story like this would. Showing the rise of the criminal empire, an honest cop operation on taking a powerful criminal down, honest cop discover corruption in the system, the criminal beginning to make mistake, honest cop getting a big break, and sadly you will know how it'll play out. For its very noticeable faults American Gangster script does get things right. It's narrative switches between its two main character providing distinct characteristic. Both see themselves as examples that should be followed because they follow a strict life code built on core American values like integrity and hard work. Sharing us their conflicts, their low points, and their triumphs. Providing two vastly different view on the American dream and struggle to maintain it together. Contrasting each other pathos and ethos for what they strive for. Both the main characters get considerable amount of development thanks to it slow pace. Being fully realize serving as excellent character piece in the middle of its distorted plot elements. Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe are without a doubt the glue that hold this picture together. Denzel Washington plays his character with sense of tenderness and cruelness. Coming off as a man who you respect and fear at the time. Russell Crowe is equally just as excellent. Crowe is messy, disorganised, and ruggedness in playing a cop losing everything he did. Ridley Scott capture the gritty characteristic of New York. Minor light and bright images littered throughout the film, but there is a certain sense of subdued grey that is carried for the majority of it. It definitely felt authentic to the time period, and the details in keeping this way are numerous. A seventies feel is nicely achieved through the use of down-tinted color and many, but not overstated, period outfits and hairdos. It's also an interesting point brought out in Scott's occasionally documentary-style. American Gangster fictionalizes true events for a decent fictional crime film saved by its two more than compelling leads. The plot could have risen to become an epic crime story, but unnecessary padding and weak story elements hold it back from reaching its director ambition.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 07, 2012
    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 B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 18, 2012
    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 A Super Reviewer

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