After a busy week of surprise family visits, 12 hour days of class, and the relentless torment of bills, there‚??s nothing like going to a theatre, sitting in the dark, and taking in a movie.
Or so I thought.
I‚??m gonna kick this off with a rather bold statement; I don‚??t really like mobster flicks. It‚??s true. While I can recognize the cinematic genius that is The Godfather, others, such as Scarface and The Departed leave me feeling let down and disappointed.
All I‚??ve been hearing since it‚??s release is praise and wonder for American Gangster, and I‚??ll admit, that trailer was f-ing amazing. I was ready to be swept up in the whole 1970s vice-affair. Here‚??s the rub: I found this movie to be amazingly indecisive, and about 20 to 30 minutes too long.
First things first, the cast. I remember thinking, ‚??how could this film go wrong with both Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington?‚?? How wrong I was. The team rarely see each other and are only brought together in the same shot after nearly two hours. Denzel dials in his performance. It doesn‚??t seem to me that this performance was any different than any of his others.
Crazy eyes: check
Loud yelling: check
Crazy eyes: Double and then triple check
Russell on the other hand delivered . With a nuanced performance, Crowe lead the Denzel and Crowefilm with an awesome character and had it been a story about Richie Roberts and his development of the Bureau of Narcotics, it would‚??ve been a damn good film.
Oh, and Cuba popped in at inopportune, and growingly annoying moments, just because he was there. Way to be Cuba‚?¶take care of that Oscar, ‚??cause it‚??s the only one you‚??re gonna have for quite a while if you keep on like this.
Other than that, the film was just too crowded with under-developed characters, concepts, and culture.
The extra characters, i.e. Russell Crowe‚??s partner, were used as un-emotional plot devices. Not to spoil, but at the end of the film, you‚??re lead to believe that Russell‚??s entire motivation for the whole film was a deceased partner, one whom Russell never talks or thinks about after said partner‚??s death. Cheese. Blocks and blocks of cheese were associated with this final tribute, rather than the gravity that sincerity would have allowed. Boo to that.
The time period (kudos to the art department, f-ing awesome set design) looked great, but lacked depth. Without the depth and immersion, I had a difficult time keeping up with the fact that it was a period piece.
The really inspiring, yet poorly developed articulation of The American Dream was the best thing this film had going. It was pretty one sided, finding favor in Frank Lucas‚?? dope dealings, and more could‚??ve been done with Richie‚??s story, but I assume Ridley‚??s saving that for the Director‚??s Cut DVD, given his recent infatuation with the medium.
But in the end, I‚??ve seen worse. It was somewhat entertaining. I wouldn‚??t go so far as to say it was Ridley‚??s Alexander, but I think he‚??s getting close to the edge. The film was impersonal, and weak in the knees about ‚??going there‚?? (there as in commitment to an idea, not violence.) Russell was great, Denzel was Denzel, and Cuba needs to get a better agent. Ce la vie.