Gangs of New York

2002

Gangs of New York

Critics Consensus

Though flawed, the sprawling, messy Gangs of New York is redeemed by impressive production design and Day-Lewis's electrifying performance.

74%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 209

81%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 293,956
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Movie Info

The violent rise of gangland power in New York City at a time of massive political corruption and the city's evolution into a cultural melting pot set the stage for this lavish historical epic, which director Martin Scorsese finally brought to the screen almost 30 years after he first began to plan the project. In 1846, as waves of Irish immigrants poured into the New York neighborhood of Five Points, a number of citizens of British and Dutch heritage who were born in the United States began making an open display of their resentment toward the new arrivals. William Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), better known as "Bill the Butcher" for his deadly skill with a knife, bands his fellow "Native Americans" into a gang to take on the Irish immigrants; the immigrants in turn form a gang of their own, "The Dead Rabbits," organized by Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson). After an especially bloody clash between the Natives and the Rabbits leaves Vallon dead, his son goes missing; the boy ends up in a brutal reform school before returning to the Five Points in 1862 as Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio). Now a strapping adult who has learned how to fight, Amsterdam has come to seek vengeance against Bill the Butcher, whose underworld control of the Five Points through violence and intimidation dovetails with the open corruption of New York politician "Boss" Tweed (Jim Broadbent). Amsterdam gradually penetrates Bill the Butcher's inner circle, and he soon becomes his trusted assistant. Amsterdam also finds himself falling for Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), a beautiful but street-smart thief who was once involved with Bill. Amsterdam is learning a great deal from Bill, but before he can turn the tables on the man who killed his father, Amsterdam's true identity is exposed, even though he has concealed it from nearly everyone, including Jenny. Gangs Of New York was the first film in two years from actor Leonardo DiCaprio; ironically, it was at one time scheduled to open on the same day as Catch Me if You Can, the Steven Spielberg project that DiCaprio began filming immediately after Gangs wrapped. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Leonardo DiCaprio
as Amsterdam Vallon
Daniel Day-Lewis
as William Cutting ("Bill the Butcher")
Cameron Diaz
as Jenny Everdeane
Jim Broadbent
as William "Boss" Tweed
Liam Neeson
as "Priest" Vallon
John C. Reilly
as Happy Jack Mulraney
Henry Thomas
as Johnny Sirocco
Brendan Gleeson
as Walter "Monk" McGinn
Gary Lewis
as McGloin
Eddie Marsan
as Killoran
Alec McCowen
as Reverend Raleigh
David Hemmings
as Mr. Schermerhorn
Cara Seymour
as Hell-Cat Maggie
Peter-Hugo Daly
as One-Armed Priest
Cian McCormack
as Young Amsterdam
Gerry Robert Byrne
as Draft Official
Liam Carney
as Bill The Butcher's Gang Member #1
Lucy Davenport
as Miss Schermerhorn
Ilaria D'Elia
as Jenny's Girl #3
Gary McCormack
as Bill The Butcher's Gang Member #2
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Critic Reviews for Gangs of New York

All Critics (209) | Top Critics (49)

  • The visuals are strong, while the central narrative is weak (a disastrous combination for a long movie). Worst of all, Gangs of New York achieves far too little while trying much too hard.

    Jan 2, 2018 | Full Review…
  • It's never less than compelling, driven by an overwhelming, larger than life performance from Day-Lewis and by Scorsese's grandiose historical imagination.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • n the end, you're left feeling that Scorsese has put on a great show. As to what he means by it, I doubt he knows.

    Mar 7, 2003 | Full Review…
  • Wonderful spectacle, terrific acting and toweringly great film-making.

    Jan 20, 2003 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • The result reverberates on the screen with a deadly force and fury more intense than anything Mr. Scorsese has yet achieved on the meanest and most beloved streets he could imagine or recall.

    Jan 16, 2003 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Observer
    Top Critic
  • What we're left with has the patness of a history lesson about our roots and the melting pot and what it means to be an American.

    Jan 16, 2003

Audience Reviews for Gangs of New York

  • Dec 03, 2016
    Disjointed and overlong. Probably Scorsese's weakest film
    Spencer M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 30, 2013
    The film's OK. Daniel-Day Lewis gives a great performance, and it's thrilling at some points. However, it is overlong and melodramatic with awkward, uneven pacing. It can't help but feel like an overdone History Channel special overwhelmed by period piece cliches.
    Matthew Samuel M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 08, 2013
    Gangs of New York is one of those films that jumbles allot of ideas in it story which can results in a narrative mess. Under Martin Scorsese direction, Gangs of New York is able to handle it's dialogue driven film (nearly three hours long) with a rich eye for detail and powerhouse cast that brings 1800 century New York to life. Gangs of New York revolves around Amsterdam Vallon who returns to New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father's killer. Gangs of New York does shows sign of being a masterpiece, but it is never focuses on telling its story in a straightforward manner. Alongside a revenge story, it also jumbles a romance which goes underdeveloped, the birth and grow of America, racial issues, social class issues, and much more. Because of this Gangs of New York does drag and at times stop for pointless moments. Yet, I never found it boring even if nothing significant was happening to move the story forward. The plot is filled with interesting themes, characters, and exciting events that you become transported in this New York. It's a very complicated film to follow and to absorb every single detail thrown at you is no easy task either. Which results in one of the most satisfying viewing for an epic drama of this scale. It contains romance, a complex narrative, dynamic characters, and so much that it's difficult not be immerse in such a film. This epic wouldn't be complete with an outstanding cast and what a cast this film has. Daniel Day-Lewis is easily the best and gets every single bit about his role perfect. Daniel Day-Lewis gets the Irish accent right with his savage and profane behavioral making what would otherwise be two dimensional character fully three dimensional with his portrayal of it. Leonardo DiCaprio wasn't to bad either. He was very capable of holding his against the very impressive Daniel Day-Lewis. He carried the film well enough that he keeps you invested in what happens next. Though DiCaprio does lack chemistry with Cameron Diaz. I did like the romance aspect of the film as it was a nice distraction from the other aspects, but not once did I buy the romance. It was simply not all convincing. Other actors like Liam Neeson, John Reilly, and Jim Broadbent all make a strong presence in the film even if they're not screen as the leads. Everything from the costumes to set design are rich with detail. Making even the most hideous of sights gorgeous to look at by the well handled cinematography. It brings 1800s century New York to life that it makes you wish you would never want to leave. Gangs of New York brings it 18 century New York to life and with masterful craftsmanship by Martin Scorsese. It's not a masterpiece of any stretch, but it is a very impressive dramatic epic.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 29, 2012
    Gangs of New York is a great story of a character's vengeance and a great look at the 1860's United States and New York specifically during the Civil War. Great acting by DiCaprio, Day-Lewis and more make this film great.
    Ian I Super Reviewer

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