Film Profile: American Gangster - (2007)
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"There are two sides to the American dream."
- Director: Ridley Scott
- Genre: Drama, Crime
- Studio: Imagine Entertainment
- Duration: 190 Mins
As this true-life New York crime saga (set between 1968 and 1974) evocatively unfolds, master director Ridley Scott makes "big" look easy. Denzel Washington brings a suave tranquillity to his role as emerging Harlem drugs lord Frank Lucas (all the better to explode into sudden violence), while, in parallel, Russell Crowe's honest New Jersey cop Richie Roberts juggles divorce, pariah status within a corrupt police department and, eventually, the logistics of bringing Lucas down. It's as if The Godfather, GoodFellas and Scarface met TV's The Wire: grand overstatement combined with procedural detail and junkie sleaze. Beyond Josh Brolin's poisonously bad cop, a fine supporting cast struggles to make any meaningful impact in the wake of a dominant Washington - not least in the poorly sketched female roles - and fidelity to events takes the dramatic sting out of an operatic climax. Nevertheless, this is still a classy crime fable that succeeds despite sidestepping the electric set pieces of such genre maestros as Martin Scorsese or Brian De Palma.
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