Bugsy - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Bugsy Reviews

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½ June 24, 2016
Difficult to enjoy a movie in which the "hero" is a vicious killer whose dream is achieved by murder, corruption and the devastating effects of gambling addiction. SPOILER The terrible outcome of such methods is shown as not the result of justice but ultimately blind love. But it's a true story, so that's life!
Otherwise, a well-produced movie.
May 8, 2016
I know it came before, but while watching this, I couldn't help but think of Casino.
November 15, 2015
"Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet." Terrific biopic of gangster Ben "Bugsy" Siegel's dream of building The Flamingo, kickstarting Las Vegas as the gambling mecca we know today. I quite liked this film when it first came out, but since then it's a film that's always kind of stuck with me and has only gotten better with time. Warren Beatty as Siegel gives what I think is the best performance of his career. Beatty has had some meaty roles in the past ("Reds," "Bonnie & Clyde" or "Shampoo"), but his characterization of Siegel is utterly captivating. Siegel is at once a dreamer, whether it's impulsively barging into a house to buy it for cash from the owner, or whether it's a childish dream of wanting to act in films, or the film's main story of building the luxurious Flamingo, but at the same time Siegel is clearly a violent sociopath. Beatty is perfect cast because he is able to seamlessly go between violent outbursts and then switching to a likable almost childlike dreamer , which I think most actors would be able to pull off one or the other, but not both. Annette Bening is equally good as Siegel's girlfriend who helps Siegel try to achieve his unrealistic dream of building The Flamingo, even as cost to achieve his vision mount and Siegel's mobster investors become increasingly concerned. If there was another character in Beatty's filmography who I'd compare this character to, it would be to his role in "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" where is was a somewhat innocent entrepreneur setting up a whorehouse in a mining came. There are many parallels between these characters and both of these films are probably my top two Beatty performances. This may also be my favorite film from director Barry Levinson, who has an equally impressive filmography ("Diner," "Avalon," "Rainman"). He directs the film with a an old Hollywood flair, greatly aided by ace cinematographer Allen Daviau. Levinson cleverly used montages, stock footage and also gives the film the same kind of epic feel that he brought to "The Natural." And like "The Natural" this film is a uniquely American film and seems like something that thematically fitting to be studies in an American Studies course. Scripted by James Toback, the film is equal parts fact and fiction, but that too is an old Hollywood type of conceit if it better serves the story and in this film the fiction tells a better story, although the true story is just about as fascinating and many of the strangest bits in the film were actually true. A small supporting performance by Elliott Gould is also worth noting. He's only briefly in the film, but gives a memorable performance as a slow witted gangster, playing a character I hadn't seen him do before. Ben Kingsley is also terrific as Meyer Lansky, who at once wants to take care of his friend Siegel and help him with the Flamingo, but at the same time is a pragmatist who's concerned about the Siegel carelessly spending more and more to build his dream casino. Lastly, Ennio Morricone's provides the film with a lush score that complements the old Hollywood style and also the epic feel of Siegel building his dream. Morricone's score is one that's remained on high rotation on my laptop at work. Overall, I think this film is a true classic American film.
½ November 4, 2015
Every word, every scene make the movie a classic mob joint. Lot more to tell but sad Beaty did not get the Oscar for his brilliant portrait.
½ October 15, 2015
Beautifully done. I like when Mafia movies don't try to replicate the likes of The Godfather franchise and keep it original.
August 15, 2014
A pick & choose true story of infamous Gangster Bugsy Spiegel who supposedly created the Flamingo Casino which was the forefront for Las Vegas in the Nevada Desert.

Warren Beatty was good as Bugsy but had a habit of over acting at times, the real knockout was Annette Benning.

The story was interesting & Bugsy wasn't a person you would want to cross, the film overall was good but it did drag a lot in parts. If your a gangster film lover you'll appreciate it but maybe not for everyone.
February 12, 2015
Warren Beattie is outrageously good, but that's literally all that's here.. How you can make such a boring gangster film I do not know
½ July 19, 2015
Awesome performances. Intriguing script/structure. Classical Direction. Artistic contradictions & conflicts abide but it's all about tension. This movie just works.
½ June 28, 2015
He beats the guy up and then he's all bloody and Annette is all turned on and hot diggity dog.
½ May 31, 2015
A breakneck film about a strange gangster where Warren Beatty delivers the best performance of his career.
May 4, 2015
A solid biopic. Beatty is great as the Las Vegas visionary, Bening is so sexy as the local bike Virginia Hill but, for me, Ben Kingsley excels as Meyer Lansky. Although it is quiet stylish, a film about the building of Vegas and Murder Inc should have been a lot more gritty and violent.
½ April 6, 2015
Solid mafia movie. Warren Beatty is brilliant in some scenes and in other scenes he's just overacting. Entertaining in its whole running time.
½ April 1, 2015
Beatty really shines as he brings Siegel's complex life to a stylistic climax.
March 19, 2015
never got into it if your looking for something like casino this aint it.
February 15, 2015
A suave gangster picture with Beatty charismatic if not always convincing as a menacing mobster in the titular role. Is not held as a great of the genre despite it's strong cast and this is probably because it is lacking in impact or memorable sequences.
February 13, 2015
Interesting to see how the flamingo was built and how Las Vegas casino's began
February 6, 2015
Directed by Barry Levinson, who followed up the Oscar success of Rain Man (1988) with his very personal passion project Avalon (1990), he had another little passion project in mind, but when he was offered this crime drama written by James Toback (The Gambler (1974) and Two Girls and a Guy (1998)), Levinson saw instant potential, and it makes for an epic gangster drama, quite beautifully made. It tells the life and times of Jewish gangster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel (Warren Beatty), who worked for the New York mob before he headed out to Hollywood, where he fell in love with aspiring starlet Virginia Hill (Annette Bening), even though Bugsy was already married to Esta (Wendy Phillips) and had 2 daughters. While out in Los Angeles, Bugsy works as representative for his associates Meyer Lansky (Ben Kingsley) and Charlie Luciano (Bill Graham), doing jobs with notorious mobster Mickey Cohen (Harvey Keitel), mostly robbing betting joints. But Bugsy has a vision of a betting joint all of his own, over in Las Vegas, where it's legal. It's a morality tale about the absolute corruption of absolute power and how greed, love and money makes monsters of us all. Beatty gives a likable turn as the notorious Bugsy, who had a great vision, but never lived to see it snowball into a behemoth. As for Levinson, he was about to unleash a behemoth of his own. Toys (1992).
January 2, 2015
Classic mobster movie. Every bit as good as 'Good Fellas' and 'Casino'.
October 25, 2014
It's not as interesting as it should be.But the fantastic cast that all give strong performances and the chemistry between Warren Beatty and Annette Bening keep you watching.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2014
Finally, Clyde Barrow is moving up in the crime business, and someone takes a gangster named Bugsy seriously, instead of just making some fluffy musical number like that silly little sweetheart Alan Parker did. I was attempting to be sarcastic, but it's hard to be that effective when a few months before this film out, Parker's latest heavy drama was "The Commitments", which was still something of a musical comedy. Well, it was still weightier than 1976's "Bugsy Malone", although, honestly, one has to give the guy who proceeded to make "Midnight Express" credit for realization that it would be hard to make a gangster drama that can be taken seriously when the focus is named Bugsy. Hey, shortly after 1990, they had to work really hard to take this film seriously in order to make up for that blasted "The Godfather: Part III". ...Okay, fine, I admit that I really, really dug "The Godfather: Part III", and the guys who made this film must have dug it, too, because if they were trying to make a more serious gangster drama to compensate, then they must not have been trying too hard if they got Warren Beatty to lead, like, right after he did "Dick Tracy". I'm sure Beatty was really glad to get the gig, because it lead to him meeting the love of his life... in this film, not "Dick Tracy", because even though Madonna has held up way better than Annette Bening (So pretty, and now, not so much), Beatty must have looked at Sean Penn and realized how dangerous marrying Madonna can be to a film career, unlike poor old Guy Ritchie. I guess this film made everyone happy, because even though it isn't quite "The Godfather: Part III", it's still pretty rewarding stuff, for all its shortcomings, including developmental ones.

Deeply focused on Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel's rise and eventual downfall in organized crime, this film offers no real background development on Siegel or his peers outside of the criminal underworld of the 1940s, and where it could have made up for that with gradual exposition, it tends to continue focusing on crime over genuine nuance, either underdoing or even abandoning certain potentially important dramatic elements to supplement characterization that is already way too thin for its own good, especially within the lead. Siegel is an interesting and extremely well-portrayed role, but outside of showcasing his moments of overt eccentricity, all you can get out of him is that he is a self-centered man of sleaze and crime who could have easily been humanized without being glorified, but ends up being too unlikable to be all that compelling of a lead without Warren Beatty's charisma, as surely as he is focused upon too deeply to begin with. By that, I mean that the supporting roles are underexplored, with the Virginia Hill love interest not even being as evenly used and thoroughly fleshed out as she really should be, thus, a lot of Siegel's peers feel like prominent devices to be picked up and dropped while the storytellers juggle a number of segments and narrative layers which jar about to a convoluted point. There's simply too much going on, and not enough at the same time, because as reasonable as a runtime of around two hours and quarter seems to be, it ends up being achieved through a combination of over-exploring Siegel's criminal business and sleaziness, and underexploring, if not awkwardly rushing through the human dramatics and what have you in order to realize momentum. The film gradually gets messier with its structure, yet it never loses its predictability, because even though this film makes certain errors that other gangster films of its inspiration are usually careful to avoid, it is hopelessly conformist to the structure and subject matter handling of so many other crime dramas of its type, and that reflects the limitations of inspiration in this project. I gripe and complain, but inspiration is pretty prominent through and through, and the final product's reward value is firmly secured by what this drama does right, but the areas in which storytelling fumbles are glaring, undercooking a problematic lead and his leads with only so much substance to all of the convolutedly uneven and overblown layering to otherwise formulaic plotting. The film runs a very serious risk of falling deeply into underwhelmingness, but when I say that inspiration matches misguidance, I really do mean that this film does enough right to engross and reward much more often than not, and immerse as a period piece.

"Criminal", if you will, as it is to say, I don't know if there's anything especially remarkable about the great Ennio Morricone's original score, thus, when timely tunes come into play, that's when the soundtrack really comes to life, with poppy, swinging and, in some cases, noirish jazz pieces that are quality by their own right, and almost as effective in selling the era of this glamorous period drama as Leslie McDonald's art direction, which celebrates distinguished production designs by Dennis Gassner and costume designs by Albert Wolsky in order to bring 1940s Los Angeles and Las Vegas to life lavishly. The sheer design of the film itself is as gorgeous as it is convincing, but Allen Daviau ices the cake, with cinematography whose crisply dreamy lighting is controlled enough to never be overwrought, yet prominent enough to be consistently handsome, and sometimes breathtaking as the pinnacle of style which, quite frankly, is more realized than the substance. Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, as a vain, womanizing and dangerous, maybe even insane mobster, was a dirtbag, and it would take a lot of work to sell him and his story as compelling, though not as much as you might think, for a great deal of immediate intrigue is established through a story concept that offers extensive insight into the sophistication and brutality of organized crime in the 1940s, and into the juicy personal life of an interesting, if problematic figure, and is brought to life in a number of areas by the very man who betrays the potential in possibly an equal number of areas: James Toback. Toback's highly formulaic approach to worthy subject matter is among the most recurrent and least problematic issues of a script which gets more and more convoluted with its overblown and uneven narrative, and never gets very deep with its exposition, but there some solid highlights in the writing, which keeps consistent in a certain wit that goes a long way in livening things up, through snappy dialogue and memorably colorful set pieces, punctuated by some plot structuring and character drawing which is nuanced, but not really brought to life until the material of this intimate drama is sold by the performers. Few characters are explored at length, and hardly any of them, including Siegel, are truly fleshed out, but most every member of a respectable cast delivers on selling his or her role, with a lovely Annette Bening all but stealing the show in her weighty, if thinly layered portrayal of a woman who frequently feels betrayed by a man of crime she loves, while Warren Beatty carries the show, with sparkling charisma and nuance so much more realized than it is in the script that Beatty becomes Siegel, and makes him a worthy lead through powerful layers. Beatty is a borderline powerhouse, and no matter how unlikable his character is on people, it's hard to not be compelled by Beatty's portrayal of the Siegel, and yet, the performances, style and writing highlights cannot truly save this drama as rewarding, not without inspiration to Barry Levinson's direction, and sure enough, what offscreen inspiration there is stands firm within Levinson's tightly paced storytelling, which is always very entertaining, with more controlled moments whose tension and resonance define impressive heights in this film. There is so much misguidance, but about as much, if not more inspiration, and although this film is not nearly what it could have been, there is enough color and realization on and off of the screen to drive the final product as a rewarding watch for the patient.

When the deal is done, a lack of background development is by no means justified by thin characterization, even for a lead who is too problematic to be especially compelling in a sloppily uneven, convolutedly busy and deeply formulaic narrative, which could have meant underwhelmingness that is almost miraculously kept far at bay, by the groovy soundtrack, lavish art direction, gorgeous cinematography, clever writing highlights, strong performances - the strongest of which being by Warren Beatty - and inspired direction which save Barry Levinson's "Bugsy" as a rewardingly entertaining and generally effective portrayal of the life and crime of Bugsy Siegel.

3/5 - Good
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