American Gangster Reviews
The take-away that left me open mouthed - allegedly 75% of the New York drugs task force were found guilty of corruption, including drug trafficking. More dirt than Glastonbury :O
Now I'm the first to pick on unnecessary mob movies but this one is a story that needed to be told, one that touches on the worst parts of the 70s with an almost endearing hand, grimy New York corruption, gang violence and so forth. Starring a top-game Washington and a sedate, empathetic Crowe American Gangster keeps you glued to the screen for every minute even if you've seen the film three times before and it showers you with a secondary cast that pretty much has all the major african american hollywood players of ten years later. The direction is very 'late Ridley Scott' complete with hard-hitting montages set to music, drama squeezed out of everyday situations and slow meticulous pacing (perhaps a bit too slow) but it is the confident cool of Washington that sells the movie. Halfway between the manic Denzel of Training Day and the too-cool-to-exist Equalizer Denzel, Frank Lucas hits the sweet spot, managing to present what was apparently in reality a sort of hick South Carolina gangster with street smarts as a consummate business man, a Stringer Bell for the 1970s with reptilian intelligence and a violent streak. Denzel plays off his co-cast, one-upping every character on the wrong side of the law and finding a clever match only in the pristine cop portrayed by Crowe.
If American Gangster has a flaw is that it has no intensely memorable scene, something that you would never expect out of a movie that has the lead of Training Day and the director of Alien and Gladiator. Yet in it's biographical sensibilities the movie fails to deliver anything that stays with you across the years apart from the overall memory of a really well made product. A product, though, that is definitely worth watching.