American Gangster (2007)

  • Time: 157 min
  • Genre: Biography | Crime | Drama
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Cast: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Josh Brolin


Following the death of his employer and mentor, Bumpy Johnson, Frank Lucas establishes himself as the number one importer of heroin in the Harlem district of Manhattan. He does so by buying heroin directly from the source in South East Asia and he comes up with a unique way of importing the drugs into the United States. Based on a true story.


  • A movie with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, mhm… interesting! Both act convincingly and give depth to their characters. Washington was class as always in this film, he remains the cool, charming and eye catching performer. Russel Crowe is excellent in the supporting role. Note that it is not an action movie. There is some action, but if that’s what you want, watch something else. “American Gangster” is just a true brilliant gangster epic, which I liked very much! Anyone who’s a fan of gangster movies or thrillers, definitely should see it!

  • (Rating: 5 / 5) “American Gangster” is an amazing film that puts to shame other mafia movies they wanted to stick to the success of “The Godfather”. It is not very easy that director Ridley Scott stumble, he maintains a high quality, and it is true that Scott lacks a 30% learning to reach Ford Coppola, and although does not cover new territory, “American Gangster” is more than acceptable. Actually not running as gangster film but as a police movie about the mafia, based on a real case (Frank Lucas) and low in action but enough suspense. Can not upgrade much of what made “Goodfellas”, but still manages to be even more exciting

    “American Gangster” is a police film, with Russell Crowe forming his own group of untouchables, who will investigate drug trafficking and catch the boss. Scott manages well this two subplots, the Frank Lucas / Russell Crowe, well-developed, although it is true that this ends up burying some important points: the cop played by Josh Brolin and a deeper undercurrent to Lucas. The worst hit is Brolin, which feels a secondary and in fact his ending lacks of solemnity or impact. But despite that, “American Gangster” overdone exceptional situations and dialogues. It is true that the case of 1 million located by Crowe could be described as a thick line to quickly label him as a honest character, but other situations as the ingenious attempt to save his fellow officer from a possible lynching are masterful. In the police investigation of the film, the viewer does not become a professional detective, but it is reasonable and moderately developed despite jumps or random clues. You can blame the subplot of Russell Crowe with his wife, who does not add much and are (not very colored) lines to show the protagonist as a busy and good man

    But where “American Gangster” shows its potential is as a bastion of “The Godfather”. Frank Lucas is a very smart guy, a strategist; and his rise is due to a simple decision as bright: be himself the direct provider of the drugs, so sells at a lower price. These types of elements, this business and calculation is very close to the world recreated by Ford Coppola in the 1972 film where the gangster are smart and elitist with strong common sense and sophistication for business. Ridley Scott portrays family and Lucas according to Sicilian canons, as an individual with traditions, helping to poor people, modest, etc… The film alternates reasonably good situations for understanding the operation of the boss: when he strikes his cousin with the piano because the cousin had shoot and consume cocaine in Frank’s party, or when discussing with Cuba Gooding Jr. about issues of the drug trademark, or when burning a gift from his wife in the fireplace because the protagonist has been exposed to the authorities; It is in these scenes where the film is close to the operation of “The Godfather” and “Goodfellas” and away from the ghost of “Scarface” (1983) that usually affects mafia movies of these times. Other scenes like the people of Harlem decaying and destroyed by Lucas drugs are also amazing to see and allow even nominally see the consequences that the protagonist has imposed, he has condemned his people and his city

    But despite these successes that tracing an effective scheme about the functioning of Denzel Washington mafia, lacks the deep substance of “The Godfather”. As discussed in the review of the 1972 film, any director with a little brain would have done the easy bet: that the viewer sympathize with the criminal or delinquent. But what many films have failed and “American Gangster” is very much to close but does not, is that the characters themselves can rotate around their world. In “The Godfather” the mafia universe is a very comfortable, a tight place where gangster have their own codes of living, traditions and, despite the violence and risks, are a civilized group capable of mediating with words their antagonists (the five families) or at least pretend friendship and temporarily retain hatred; and especially this world makes its protagonists are satisfied and they would never leave organized crime. Here in “American Gangster” given details such traditions, family bonding for crime and other elements that make Frank Lucas does not intend to leave the comfortable model that has cemented; but in turn he is not a solemn boss like Don Corleone. This is very good to update the genre (like “Goodfellas”), but also lacks sophistication, as Frank Lucas is just a bully who has taken the position of his former mentor, a guy who could easily work honestly instead of choosing crime. It lacks the sealed that Coppola perfectly guaranteed in “The Godfather “

    But even if it is not 100% perfect, “American Gangster” containing the substance that any film in recent times about organized crime not have. The scene where Frank is in the interrogation with the detective Crowe, could have generated aggressive and hostile dialogues between the characters, but instead the script treats them in a very clever way, because if it is true that Frank intended to bribe the police, in general these characters they have a lot of respect and idealization each other. It is an excellently dialogued moment and plays the edges of civilization that has “The Godfather”

    It is a long film, whose last minutes seems to rush to close the story. But it’s a great movie

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