American Gangster - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

American Gangster Reviews

October 18, 2008
Ridley Scott's gangster flick aims high and mostly measures up.
February 3, 2008
Scott's not interested in fireworks but small implosions of the soul and ego.
Full Review | Original Score: B
November 14, 2007
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 | Original Score: 3/6
November 6, 2007
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 5, 2007
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 2, 2007
Washington's steely grip on his impersonation of Frank Lucas holds the film together.
November 2, 2007
Ridley Scott's listless Big Statement is a wheezy, hot air-inflated dud.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
November 2, 2007
An intelligent, well-made and seductive movie.
November 2, 2007
Scott guided Crowe to an Oscar in Gladiator, and once more he brings out the actor's vulnerable side.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
November 2, 2007
In its title character, the movie has created a murdering, dope-slinging millionaire from the streets that even Denzel Washington has managed to make boring.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
November 2, 2007
American Gangster is an enjoyable double character study, and the movie's length ultimately becomes an advantage.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
November 2, 2007
As with an earlier star who fed off career criminals, Humphrey Bogart, there is always something a bit smarmy about Washington, even in his heroic mode; the nastier his character grows, the looser his acting becomes.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
November 2, 2007
Their ambition is out there. But for all the sprawl, American Gangster feels secondhand. It's like Scarface drained of blood, at arm's length from the culture that spawned it.
November 2, 2007
This is Washington's movie as much as it is Lucas' story, and he is as entertainingly evil here as in his Oscar-winning performance as a bad cop in Training Day.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
November 2, 2007
What American Gangster does have -- what makes it such a commanding, exhilarating movie -- is a consummate love and understanding of story.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
November 2, 2007
It takes nerve to call a film American Gangster -- But once you see this finely made and richly satisfying film, you understand it's the only title possible.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
November 2, 2007
It's a much better film than nine-tenths of what's out there on any given Friday, and if you're a fan of steak-and-potatoes crime drama, I highly recommend it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
November 2, 2007
Every bit as generic as its title, American Gangster is a Frankenstein creature of a film, put together from the parts of other famous gangster flicks yet lacking in both the fury and wild-eyed vision the best of the genre have to offer.
Full Review | Original Score: C-
November 2, 2007
You can safely watch it without feeling guilty, or indicted.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
November 2, 2007
For talent, Scott couldn't start much purer. Washington and Crowe are consummate craftsmen who burrow deep into their characters.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
November 2, 2007
Ridley Scott packs the film with period detail and vivid, violent energy reminiscent of high-grade Scorsese, then mixes in a Lumet-like, keenly observed outrage at systemic corruption.
Full Review | Original Score: A
November 2, 2007
This is an engrossing story, told smoothly and well, and Russell Crowe's contribution is enormous.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
November 2, 2007
Great cast...
November 2, 2007
The entire movie is caught between being a work of seriousness and a work of absurdity.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
November 2, 2007
Both he [Washington] and Ruby Dee, as his mother, give Oscar-caliber performances.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
November 2, 2007
As an entertaining cops-and-crook procedural -- it's not half-bad, jacked up by strong performances, a couple of bravura action scenes and a generous attention to period detail.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
November 1, 2007
The better it gets -- and the drama grows in power over its quasi-epic course of 157 minutes -- the more it brings to mind the truly great gangster films of American movie history.
November 1, 2007
The movie, based on a true story, takes surprising twists and turns right up to its chilling ending and is probably the best gangster crime drama of the year.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
November 1, 2007
Greatness hovers just outside American Gangster, knocking, angling to be let in.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/5
November 1, 2007
As a piece of storytelling -- built on the foundation of a great story -- it's an epic that's been sliced and diced into so many little morsels that almost nothing in it has any weight.
November 1, 2007
A strikingly photogenic but lethargic cops and crimelords yarn, it gives us a number of formidable talents laboring on a story that never develops the headlong momentum it needs. It's a brooding, serious character study impersonating a crime thriller.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
November 1, 2007
American Gangster shoots for epic stature and misses, but Washington hits the mark from start to finish in one of the year's best performances, the one element that earns the larger-than-life status the rest of the film so desperately seeks.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
November 1, 2007
While you may wish the superlatively talented cast of American Gangster had a classic to show for their efforts, a good modern gangster film is its own reward.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
November 1, 2007
It's an entertaining pulp pastiche with pretensions.
Full Review | Original Score: B
November 1, 2007
Normally, Scott loves his flash-bang setpieces, but he proves equally adept at low-key verisimilitude and long-form storytelling, the kind that sprawls out over years of incidents that only gradually add up to a powerful whole.
Read More | Original Score: B+
November 1, 2007
It has the aspirations of an epic of crime and punishment, a superb feel for time and milieu, and an almost subliminal feel for myth.
November 1, 2007
What should have been a clash of two opposing moral universes instead comes off as a wan buddy flick.
November 1, 2007
It's not just Oscar bait for its two dazzling leading men. It's a fascinating look at the Land of Opportunity as seen through the eyes of its most amoral opportunists.
Read More | Original Score: 4/5
November 1, 2007
Ridley Scott is the weak link; he's never made a film this for-hire. Even Scott's signature misted atmosphere is absent.
Read More | Original Score: 3/6
October 31, 2007
Washington, as real-life heroin kingpin Frank Lucas, and Crowe, as detective Richie Roberts, are on a collision course with one another that's bursting with the gritty period atmosphere of 1970s Harlem.
October 31, 2007
One of the year's best movies -- and surely a major Oscar contender.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
October 31, 2007
Washington rules the screen. His portrayal is one of many things that elevates this film to the level of being consistently entertaining and occasionally compelling.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
October 31, 2007
American Gangster is meticulous and detailed, a drug-world epic that holds you from moment to moment, immersing you in the intricate and sleazy logistics of crime.
Full Review | Original Score: B
October 31, 2007
One must applaud American Gangster as the kind of socko entertainment many people thought Hollywood filmmakers had become incapable of. It is not to be missed.
October 30, 2007
Ambitious as American Gangster is, it's well suited to Denzel Washington's particular star quality.
October 30, 2007
It's Super Fly -- which also had a drug-dealer hero -- without the cartoon cruddiness and the put-on violence and with an enormous increase of range and detail.
October 29, 2007
There is not one dull or inauthentic moment in this film.
October 24, 2007
The movie is smooth and smart enough to attract a significant audience beyond the considerable fan base of its stars, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.
October 18, 2007
Call it the black Scarface or the Harlem Godfather or just one hell of an exciting movie, but the fact-based, 1970s-era American Gangster is already looking like a major awards contender.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4