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American Gangster

A movie directed by Ridley Scott

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Long, Yet Brilliant, "American Gangster" Delivers!

  • Aug 12, 2009
  • by
 It is very hard for me to ever say no to a movie, but for a while I had stayed away from American Gangster.  I had gotten some mixed reviews about it and I was also told it was extremely long.  However, I finally gave in on Monday and watched it after my friend Laura told me it was worth it.  While I still think it was a bit to long, the film was spectacular.  The acting performances given by both Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe were superb and oscar worthy.  This movie could have been just another film based on a true story, but these actors made the characters and story of the film come to life.  The only thing that could have made this movie better was maybe cutting 45 minutes of it.

American Gangster tells the stories of Frank Lucas (Washington), a gangster who ruled New York City by buying heroin direct and cutting out the middleman, and Richie Roberts (Crowe), a New Jersey detective who is probably the only honest cop of that time in the Jersey/NYC area.  While Lucas quickly takes over New York City with his pure heroin and gaining respect and fear from other crime bosses, Roberts attempts to uncover what would become the biggest drug bust and crackdown on dirty cops in American history.  With Lucas looking over his shoulder and getting more paranoid by the day, it's only a matter of time before Roberts puts the pieces together.

Despite American Gangster being such a long film, it is truly informative and well put together.  The writing and directing was amazing and I think with such an important piece of history, it becomes very easy to get lost in it which is why I think the film was so long.  While most of the scenes in American Gangster were necessary, scenes that involved Richie and his son might not have been along with the scenes in court.  Again, these are things that didn't stop me from watching the film or enjoying it.  There are a lot of little scenes in the movie that made it such a treat to watch.  For example when Eva Lucas (Lymari Nadal) gives Frank a fur coat to wear to the Ali fight and actually wears it, despite telling his brother that doing such things arouses attention.  Of course, the fur coat is the thing that ultimately bites Lucas in the ass.  Little things like that are what I love about movies.

Of course, American Gangster couldn't have been the movie it was without the amazing acting performances by Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.  Though they didn't really have any scenes together, when they did, they had amazing chemistry.  What really worked though was how the two actors really became these real life characters.  I believed that Crowe was an honest cop struggling in a world that was full of lies, corruption and deceit.  Denzel Washington's performance really stood out for me though because he did such a brilliant job playing the "nice guy" gangster who in fact, was just the opposite.  He was playing a guy who knew exactly what he was and what he was doing right down to the core.  Other key and impressive performances were put in by Chiwetel Ejiofor as Frank Lucas' brother Huey and Josh Brolin as dirty NYC detective Trupo.

American Gangster is one of those films that you should set aside a time to watch, it's a very long movie!  Despite the length of the film, you won't be disappointed by the performances delivered in it.  It has amazing acting, a great true story and just an awesome directing job by Ridley Scott as he delivers another masterpiece!  Not one to watch with the kids however as this one has some nudity, strong language and quite a lot of Violence.  4/5 only because of the length issue, great film!
American Gangster

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September 06, 2009
Russell Crowe has made a career out of playing this kind of guy and he does it very, very well. There's just something about him that makes you believe that he has this stong inner core of decency. So does Washington which is what makes him such an outstanding choice for his role, because in the end he isn't exactly what he pretends to be. I think it's about time for me to buy a copy of this. I'm sure it must be cheap enough by now.
More American Gangster reviews
review by . April 10, 2009
This movie starts a little slow than picks up about midway to a fairly rapid end. Though not quite as good as Serpico, it is a good film nevertheless. Denzel Washington as Frank, the protege of the mob boss who ran Harlem. Frank learned everything from him such as keeping a low profile away from his business and being good to the neighborhood. Frank seems to elude all the police scrutiny until an organized crime unit in New Jersey headed by Russell Crowe (Ritchie) realizes that Frank must be someone …
review by . October 29, 2008
American Gangster
It's Harlem, 1968, and "Bumpy" Johnson is speaking to his driver and right-hand man Frank Lucas (the amazing Denzel Washington). Bumpy laments the loss of the middleman in business, the jobs lost to overseas companies, the end of the era of the working man. When Bumpy dies and Frank takes over, he omits the middleman too and purchases his heroin directly from Bangkok and ships it via military aircraft through Vietnam to the US. Frank is on his way up, and he doesn't let anyone stand in his way, …
review by . November 17, 2008
This is a very long and dark film based on a true story (with embellishments), and is set in Harlem and New Jersey during the time of the Vietnam War.     The first part of the story is about Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) a driver and enforcer for a leading Harlem gangster, who decides to get his own piece of the action when his boss passes away. Lucas goes about his business by getting his goods direct from the source, cutting out the middlemen and selling a high quality product …
review by . November 13, 2007
Pros: acting, cast, imagery, directing     Cons: long length, historical significance, some unnecessary subplots     The Bottom Line: Across 110th street, pushers won't the junkie go free.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. In the New York City of American Gangster, it's hard to tell the cops from the criminals. Police officers consistently accept bribes from criminals, get a little overzealous …
review by . February 18, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
This viewer rented the DVD form of AMERICAN GANGSTER, having passed it by in the theatrical run, thinking that it was yet another 'crime and corruption in New York' genre film. It was surprising to discover that this very long film (just under three hours in the Unrated version) is completely riveting and in a way far different than the usual gangster film: this story, based on real people as outlined in an article by Mark Jacobson (transformed for the screen by Steven Zaillian), and while it has …
About the reviewer
Julian Brown ()
Ranked #34
Hi, my name is Julian Brown. I currently write for The Brotherly Game, a local Philadelphia soccer website where I cover the US Women's National Team and the local WPS Philadelphia Independence. I … more
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About this movie


American Gangster is a 2007 crime film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Washington portrays Frank Lucas, a real-life gangster from Harlem who smuggled heroin into the United States on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War. Crowe portrays Richie Roberts, a detective attempting to bring down Lucas' drug empire. Filming was done on location in New York City. American Gangster was released in the United States and Canada on November 2, 2007. The film was also nominated for two Academy Awards, including a notable Best Supporting Actress nomination for Ruby Dee who appears on screen for less than 10 minutes.


  • Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas
  • Russell Crowe as Det. Richard "Richie" Roberts
  • John Ortiz as Javier Rivera|Det. Rivera
  • Lymari Nadal as Eva Kendo Lucas
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor as Huey Lucas
  • Josh Brolin as Det. Trupo
  • Ted Levine as Capt. Lou Toback
  • RZA as Moses Jones
  • Malcom Goodwin as Jimmy Zee
  • Ruby Dee as Mama Lucas
  • Armand Assante as Dominic Cattano
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. as Nicky Barnes
  • Roger Guenveur Smith as Nate
  • Carla Gugino as Laurie Roberts
  • Idris Elba as Tango
  • Jon Polito as Rossi
  • Roger Bart as U.S. Attorney
  • Clarence Williams III as Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson
  • Clifford "T.I." Harris as Steve Lucas
  • Lonnie "Common" Lynn as Turner Lucas
  • Delron Mims as Frank's younger brother
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Director: Ridley Scott
Genre: Crime, Drama
Release Date: 2 November 2007 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Steven Zaillian, Mark Jacobson
Runtime: 157 min
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