American Gangster (18)

Film

Thrillers

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Russell Crowe in American Gangster.

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Mon Nov 12 2007

As biopic movie-meat, this extraordinary true story aches with subtext: ’70s Harlem druglord, Frank Lucas built an empire via killer market force – smuggling low-cost, high-impact heroin right through the fog of the Vietnam war. It’s worth epic treatment, all 157 minutes of it. And, right from the title, Ridley Scott guns for nothing less than the twenty-first century’s first great crime saga: the American dream re-cut as a New York dope opera.

Doesn’t it show. More hyper-aware than hyper-real, Scott’s meticulous aesthetics can’t touch the urban texture and deep focus of ‘The French Connection’, ‘The Godfather’, ‘Serpico’ and ‘Prince of the City’ – all looming heavily in intertextual nods. What’s more, writer Steven Zaillian strains to splice a ‘Scarface’ rise and fall with a ‘Heat’-styled crisscross character-study, as untouchable cop Richie Roberts’ (Crowe, buttoned into a low-key role) toils to bring down Lucas (Washington) and the corrupt NYPD narcs. But for all the fractured mirroring, this is Lucas’ story – and Washington’s movie. He’s immense: centring every scene with tractor-beam charisma, that dangerous, easy charm hovering between a luxury smile or blazing violence.

Like much of his oeuvre, Scott’s scaled-up movie is bigger than life – and lesser for it. But while never digging deeply or darkly enough to match its own grand vision of itself, slick technique drives the story forward with pace and style. The finish rushes in: a brilliantly constructed police take-down, a magnetic collision between two Oscar-winning alpha males and a gift-wrapped coda which confirms that, in Hollywood, mythology always trumps morality.

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Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Nov 16, 2007

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:20
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:6
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|52
1 person listening
Mr E A Dobson

When this first came out i dismissed it as just another gangster flick. Six years on and a work colleague lends me the dvd & claims i must watch this film! Well it actually exceeded all my expectations and proves that occasionally Ridley Scott can still make a great film. Also i`m not a huge fan of Russell Crowe but The Insider & this are exceptions. Denzel is of course great & Josh Brolin makes me think, why is he not in more films!

Mr E A Dobson

When this first came out i dismissed it as just another gangster flick. Six years on and a work colleague lends me the dvd & claims i must watch this film! Well it actually exceeded all my expectations and proves that occasionally Ridley Scott can still make a great film. Also i`m not a huge fan of Russell Crowe but The Insider & this are exceptions. Denzel is of course great & Josh Brolin makes me think, why is he not in more films!

Andrew

A real big movie, I like crowe movies and Denzel always do the best worth the watching a real history is always atractive

Andrew

A real big movie, I like crowe movies and Denzel always do the best worth the watching a real history is always atractive

Magmabulle

Denzel Washington is always worth watching, and all in all it is a well-made gangster movie.

Magmabulle

Denzel Washington is always worth watching, and all in all it is a well-made gangster movie.

Les Molloy

Without even reading the TO review of American Gangster I would just like to say how Geoffrey Speller has hit the nail on the head with his comments about TO reviews. In fact his comments may be applied to almost all TO film reviews published. I used to read the reviews, ending up with a headache and none the wiser as far as the film is concerned. Unfortunately, as a listing magazine in London, there are not many alternaitives. What annoys me is they don't always get the listings correct!

Les Molloy

Without even reading the TO review of American Gangster I would just like to say how Geoffrey Speller has hit the nail on the head with his comments about TO reviews. In fact his comments may be applied to almost all TO film reviews published. I used to read the reviews, ending up with a headache and none the wiser as far as the film is concerned. Unfortunately, as a listing magazine in London, there are not many alternaitives. What annoys me is they don't always get the listings correct!

geoffrey speller

May I comment on the review. I have never such a pile of psuedo, pretentious crap in my many years of reading film reviews. Here is someone writing only for himself, no doubt filled with admiration of his work. As the saying goes, less is more and in the case of the reviewer, I would suggest 'less' to the point of disappearing. An absolutely dreadfully written review in every respect. A text book piece I would suggest for budding film reviewers as an example of how not to write.

Jemma

I think this film was good but it was a bit long. At times I felt it was a bit drawn out/ I did like it but I definately wont be buying it and I probably wouldnt watch it again if it was on TV. I preferred Russel Crowes performance in Gladiator.

Timi

A star studed film no doubt but a spectacular performance from Denzel overshadowed every other casts in the film.....nothing beats "The Goodfellas" though in this Category!!!

Joey

Although a long film the time flies and before you know it you are going home. Excellent acting by the two main leads but it would have been nicer if they had spent more time together on screen to show the power of their acting.

andrea

I think some people must have seen a different film to the one I saw! Awesome - is all I can say. Russell Crowe nearly as good as he was in Gladiator and Denzel - excellent as always. This film has oscars written all over it!

andrea

I think some people must have seen a different film to the one I saw! Awesome - is all I can say. Russell Crowe nearly as good as he was in Gladiator and Denzel - excellent as always. This film has oscars written all over it!

spacey

no depth,forgettable music, stale story line, the script producing little tension between main protagonists ,after twenty minutes I sat back and said to myself, will I stay or will I go for this is a mediocre show,Ill stay for Russell Crowe whose overweight pasty and slow ...a gangster movie should make me love and hate ,take me underground where psychologies are brutal and personality stinks of crass perversion, but this had neither. Give me Robin Hood versus the sheriff any day. Or five minutes of the godfather would suffice. Two megastars do not a potent picture make...morality needs sinister tension as its bedpartner, I did like the idea of heroes and heroin in coffins, symbolism which ought to kick off a whole lotta deep soul searching on screen and less slick cinematography. Wasted opportunity.

Becky

I thought the film was a little slow to start off with but once it got down to the nitty gritty I was won over. Crowes role is definately debateable but cannot fault the flawless acting of Denzel! Definately worth a watch but stick it out a little while for it to kick in!!

Becky

I thought the film was a little slow to start off with but once it got down to the nitty gritty I was won over. Crowes role is definately debateable but cannot fault the flawless acting of Denzel! Definately worth a watch but stick it out a little while for it to kick in!!

critique

Entertaining and gripping. Didn`t think it was at all "overlong" as one or two people have commented. Would recommend it highly.

critique

Entertaining and gripping. Didn`t think it was at all "overlong" as one or two people have commented. Would recommend it highly.

Tom

To compare this film to The Godfather is like comparing a bag of chips to gourmet cooking. Over long, vile language and graphic violence did not make it a pleasant watch for me. Crowe was deadpan and is better in historical roles. Wesley Snipes could have carried the role of Lucas better. Denzel never convinced me. Only reason I went to see it was my wife thinks they are both handsome? No sour grapes honest.

Sutton

A very enjoyable movie... great story (though sad re the spread of heroin in NYC) and images of the 1960/70's. Both leads were excellent, though wasn't sure if Crowe was supposed to me American or Australian, I'm sure he said 'Mate' at least once!! Although a long film, it flies by. Worth seeing!!

Sutton

A very enjoyable movie... great story (though sad re the spread of heroin in NYC) and images of the 1960/70's. Both leads were excellent, though wasn't sure if Crowe was supposed to me American or Australian, I'm sure he said 'Mate' at least once!! Although a long film, it flies by. Worth seeing!!

Massey

A great movie,would not mind watching it 10 times!Excellent acting from Denzel and Russell.

Massey

A great movie,would not mind watching it 10 times!Excellent acting from Denzel and Russell.

Angelica F.

I Love true based stories and i thought this film was great! it reminded me of the film 'Blow'. it was very interesting to see

Angelica F.

I Love true based stories and i thought this film was great! it reminded me of the film 'Blow'. it was very interesting to see

joy

A truse masterpeice crowe at his best, washington second best but fails to give a descent performance, not as good as gladiator. 4 stars

conn0tron

Overly long and soulless, but beautifully realised film. Not as good as it should have been given the material.

richard wasembeck

watching this movie give you an insight of an unworld you should be afraid off. This is Ridley's getto pass. If this movie doesn't sweep the award shows it will destroy the art off film making. This movie an eye popping adventure through the maddest of capitalism. I loved it!

richard wasembeck

watching this movie give you an insight of an unworld you should be afraid off. This is Ridley's getto pass. If this movie doesn't sweep the award shows it will destroy the art off film making. This movie an eye popping adventure through the maddest of capitalism. I loved it!

gabriella

I haven't even seen the movie yet I know it will live up to Ridley's reputation of incredible well thought out sometimes "roll with it" style. 'sticktocommercials' seems to be a 'hater' poor thing...

gabriella

I haven't even seen the movie yet I know it will live up to Ridley's reputation of incredible well thought out sometimes "roll with it" style. 'sticktocommercials' seems to be a 'hater' poor thing...

bluesdoctor

Burdened by the cold distance of an epic, taking in too wide a plain, reducing its individual characters to chess pieces, slaves of the master plan, the plot, Even Densel is a stiff characature, monotonous, The Man. Crowe, ever wearing a Star of David, intermittently gives his lame impression of Jews, a nerdy walk, a hesistating talk, but, inevitably, reverts back to himself, the same charactere he's been playing from day one. A big, glorious, high budget production that drowns your senses with image and sound, purging, for the moment, reality from your bowels.

Been there Seen that

What irritated me the most about this movie was the soundtrack. Scott was trying to telegraph every inch of plot with loud, fake mismatched sounds of symphony, R & B, and sound effects. Every once in a while he used a real song from the period, like Across 110th St. with Bobby Womack singing. But he had a handful of club scenes with fake horrible R & B. What? Was he too cheap to pay for more originals. So that was the fakest thing [next to Joe Morton's hairpiece]. The other irritant to my eyes was the mixture of great scenes, like Lucas' offing the rival in broad daylight on a crowded street in Harlem in front of his brothers, and his mother [Ruby Dee] standing up to him. Good stuff. The rest I swear I saw for sale at a Blockbuster 3/$10 bin. I love integration and H'wood making a black-themed pic every so often. They don't get the music right, can't bear to see the profundity in black life, and cannot begin to understand how black people speak to each other in intimacy and love. Other than that, this was steps ahead of Dreamgirls which I wanted to leave after 30 minutes of fakey R & B. At least this movie got better as its story unfolded.

SticktocommercilasRidley

"Yet another classic from Ridley his body of work stands up to ANY director ....." HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH! Man that's funny! Ridley Scott should stick to ripping off old scripts and Chanel commercials. Gladiator? Are you kidding me? Complete Spartacus rip off. Now he's taken every movie through which our totally moronic "video game generation" youth define themselves, and once again they are eating it up.

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