You’re a Bit Late Aren’t You?: American Gangster

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I’m a big fan of gangster related movies. From Goodfellas to The Untouchables to Pulp Fiction, anything that involves criminals, guns, and cops I will usually enjoy (that even extends to games). Going into this film, I had high hopes because of the director (Ridley Scott) as well as it having two great actors (Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe) starring, how could this film go wrong?

It couldn’t, because it was awesome.

American Gangster is based on the true story of the rise and fall of the infamous black gangster Frank Lucas, who was a major player in the illegal drugs industry during the Vietnam war. You might already know about the real life story, but that’s all you’ll get story wise here because the film isn’t worth spoiling.

The setting for the movie is in a the slums of late 1960s — early 1970s New York, where corruption within the police force is rife and illegal drugs are the new business to be in for any Gangster. There’s not many rival factions but they are well fleshed out. These factions would be the Italian Mafia, Frank’s mob, and the corrupt police force who will take the drugs from these factions and then sell it back to them, the clever bastards.

Everything about the film is brilliant. For a start, you’ve got Denzel Washington, who despite usually playing a good guy, does great as our villain. Then there’s Russell Crowe who does a great job as detective Richie Roberts. The film is pretty long, but it’s one of those films that doesn’t drag.

The movie is complemented by a great soundtrack that really sets the dark and serious mood the film portrays. My only complaints would be that even though I said the movie doesn’t drag…2 and a half hours was pretty long, and the story, while great, isn’t exactly going to set the world alight.

That doesn’t really matter because this film is well worth buying and watching. Compared to other gangster films, does it measures up to the greats? Yes, yes it does. Like The Departed before it, American Gangster proves that a great Mafia/gangster film can still be made. Goodfellas will always be my favourite film of the genre but American Gangster is pretty high up there.

I feel that the movie could have been improved by including the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage when Russell Crowe’s NARCs were around, that would have been awesome!

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