Friday, March 21, 2008

Matt Komar's Review of "American Gangster"

American Gangster ***1/2
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Denzel Washington, Russel Crowe and Josh Lucas

The film begins with Denzel Washington immolating an Arabic man. It sets the tone and gets you exited. "Maybe this is gonna be the Black GoodFellas!" you say. Well, it's opener is like how GoodFellas opened, but American Gangster is a unique crime drama, but it falls short of an instant classic. Denzel is Frank Lucas, the 70's Harlem drug kingpin who managed to go to the source of drugs himself and sells the stellar Heroin "Blue Magic". Russel Crowe is the man who busted him. Josh Lucas is a smaller character, but he's a bit of both; Corrupt Scumbag Detective. The film is in the vein of 70's crime dramas (love 'em all!) but with a twist. Instead of focusing on one character or party, you focus on two; the good and the bad. The film pulls it off -- but not perfectly. In most crime dramas, you forget that the criminal is bad and you hope to God that he doesn't get caught. But with American Gangster and its two pronged attack, you realize he's a douche and you want Mr. Crowe to win in the end. But then again, Denzel is not the real villain. He just does bad things to keep a tradition going. You root for him sometimes, since people only think Italians can only be mobsters. You root for him in that, but not much. Like I said Denzel is not the villain; Josh Lucas is. And you want his scumbag ass dead. He kills a dog just to get to Denzel's money. Scumbag! But the rest of the cast and its continual action, make this one of the year's best, but only time will tell if it will truly hold up against the other crime classics.
Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe square off at the end.

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