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 for a more affordable price. By keeping a low profile, he stays under the radar and becomes very popular in Harlem, loved by all his loyal customers. He marries a beauty queen, takes his mother to church, and encourages his family to join him as business associates.
Unfortunately, Lucas runs a heroin dealership, his customers are addicts, his friends are all in the business and he isn't afraid to eliminate his competition when and where necessary. This makes for a complex character that you'll love to hate, and Washington does a believable job as a bad guy.
The second part of the story is about Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) an honest New Jersey detective who doesn't think twice before turning in mob money, and who is attending night school to become a lawyer. Like Lucas, Roberts also has another side, and his Boy Scout image is tarnished by his impending divorce due to his womanizing and neglect of his young son. Roberts is given the job of stamping out drug trafficking, and this eventually leads to a meeting of the two protagonists.
The movie brings out the seamy nature of the drug trade, and the resulting corruption, decay, greed and power that comes with it, but also sends a message that timely cooperation can sometimes tip the scales of justice in your favor. It takes too long to get started, includes quite a few unnecessary bits in the middle, and wraps up too quickly in a manner that's a bit hard to swallow.
Recommended for people who like dark dramas, long movies, gangsters, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, but not for anybody else.
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 … more
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 … more
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, … more
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 … more
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 … more
I write reviews for a hobby. Most of my reviews are short and to the point, on account of my short attention span. I try to make my reviews both informative and entertaining, and sometimes I succeed. … more
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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