American Gangster


American Gangster

Critics Consensus

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



Reviews Counted: 211

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 963,006


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Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4/5

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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 city's mainline corrupters, but part of its circle of legit civic superstars. Richie Roberts is an outcast cop close enough to the streets to feel a shift of control in the drug underworld. Roberts believes someone is climbing the rungs above the known Mafia families and starts to suspect that a black power player has come from nowhere to dominate the scene. Both Lucas and Roberts share a rigorous ethical code that sets them apart from their own colleagues, making them lone figures on opposite sides of the law. The destinies of these two men will become intertwined as they approach a confrontation where only one of them can come out on top.

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Denzel Washington
as Frank Lucas
Russell Crowe
as Detective Richie Roberts
Josh Brolin
as Detective Trupo
Chiwetel Ejiofor
as Huey Lucas
Ruby Dee
as Mama Lucas
Ted Levine
as Lou Toback
Clarence Williams III
as Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson
John Hawkes
as Freddie Spearman
Yul Vázquez
as Alfonse Abruzzo
Malcolm Goodwin
as Jimmy Zee
Carla Gugino
as Laurie Roberts
John Ortiz
as Javier J. Rivera
as Stevie Lucas
Cuba Gooding Jr.
as Nicky Barnes
Armand Assante
as Dominic Cattano
Kathleen Garrett
as Mrs. Dominic Cattano
Joe Morton
as Charlie Williams
Ritchie Coster
as Joey Sadano
Ric Young
as Chinese General
as Turner Lucas
KaDee Strickland
as Richie's Attorney
Norman Reedus
as Detective in Morgue
J. Kyle Manzay
as Dexter Lucas
Warner Miller
as Melvin Lucas
Albert Jones
as Terrence Lucas
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News & Interviews for American Gangster

Critic Reviews for American Gangster

All Critics (211) | Top Critics (50)

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

Oct 18, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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

Feb 3, 2008 | Rating: B | Full Review…

One of the most intelligent gangster movies in years.

Jan 4, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Here's a startlingly original true-life story told in an oddly unoriginal way. And that attempt at instant classic status in the title doesn't quite convince. It's got no more dark grandeur than American Idol.

Nov 16, 2007 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

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.

Nov 14, 2007 | Rating: 3/6 | Full Review…

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.

Nov 6, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for American Gangster



Daniel J DeMersseman
Daniel J DeMersseman

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
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

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