American Gangster

November 8, 2007

by Lacy Patton

“American Gangster” hits the screen with a literal bang and keeps the audience’s eyes glued to the show for the entire 2 hours and 37 minutes.

Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Josh Brolin, Common and Ted Levine, this is a classic gangster movie – except this time the Italians aren’t in charge.

Based on a true story with shocking events, “American Gangster” is set in the early 1970s in Harlem. The film focuses on Frank Lucas (Washington), who quickly makes his way to drug-lord status by selling a pure form of heroin he dubs “Blue Magic.”

Lucas manages to stay under the radar until a certain wardrobe throws good-cop Richie Roberts (Crowe) onto his trail.

Roberts delivers an unforgettable performance, and his character’s life also takes up a large part of the film.

Unfortunately, many of Crowe’s scenes could have been cut from the movie because they do not pertain to the life of Frank Lucas in any way.

“American Gangster” is unlike many mob-based films of recent years, because gun fights between rival gangs are non-existent.

However, there is one gun fight that takes place near the end of the film that will have audiences gasping and laughing at the same time.

This is when Crowe and Washington finally are put in the same scene. Previously, they had been leading separate lives and had no reason to be in the same scene together.
In the beginning of the movie, the life of the gangster is romanticized, yet later on snatches of the film show the desperate, true-life activities of heroin users and the effect the drug has on their family and their community.

Though the final minutes are feel-good and fact-based, “American Gangster” will have spectators leaving the theater with a sense of justice.

The film throws gritty scenes, interesting dialogue and memorable quotes at viewers and is laced with unexpected humor.

Nudity is seen in surprising and hilarious clips and the drug use and the language will shock some na’ve North Louisianans.

This movie is a must-see for anyone who wants to watch a unique spin on the classic mafia-based gangster movies and is not expecting a film full of frivolous, unfortunate gun fights.