I saw the preview for this film and couldn’t wait to see it. I think both Denzel Washington (Frank Lucas) and Russel Crowe (Richie Roberts) are great actors, and I especially love them when they get to play bad-asses. After seeing American Gangster, I felt it was built up to be much more than it was. To me the subject of the film was drugs, not gangsters. The entire feel of the movie, felt off. I guess that’s what you get for hiring an English guy to make AMERICAN Gangster. From the way they are selling it, it should have been a gangster film that deals with drugs, but instead it was a movie about drugs with gangsters and cops around them. I thought this was going to be a contender for The Godfather or even The Sopranos, it’s not.This moving was closer to Blow than The Godfather.
The film, which is 157 minutes long, starts out with a bang but then seems to never stop setting things up for..? The film doesn’t get to the point until about an hour and a half into it as Russel Crowe finally says “I don’t think they want this to stop. It employs too many people…Stop bringing dope into the country, about 100,000 are going to be out of a job.” This, finally, is what the movie is about. Here I was thinking it would be about Denzel Washington’s character being a nobody, then rising up becoming more successful than all the Italian Mafia. Instead it focuses on the corruption of the police force and the people who are against it. The film hides behind the facade of a gangster epic, and it’s just not.
Both main character’s seemed a little flat because there was never a big break through moment for either one of them. The most interesting moments in which the characters break down, are just kind of mulled over. I feel like Ridley Scott decided, yeah we get they’re feeling something, lets move on. NO! I want to see them break down. I want to see Denzel realize he’s fucked. I want to see Russel Crowe’s face when his dreams come true. And the one scene that does it, is dare I say, not long enough. This is the pay off! Milk it baby! These characters parallel one another in many ways. One is good, the other is bad, both fighting for what is “right”. They are both being used by the same corrupt police system. With all this, they have ONE scene together face to face, in the entire movie, and I wanted to see all of this brought to it and it wasn’t! Someone needed to visually wallow in this scene, instead of having an English major pry it out of it.
Overall, the film is good, but it didn’t leave me excited or buzzing as I walked out of it. I felt the length and not much pay off. It didn’t have the visual masturbation that I would expect from Ridley Scott, dare I say I would have liked to see a little more. Nothing I saw blew my mind.
I liked the movie because it had a somewhat good story behind it and the acting was good; but the film didn’t know, or accept what it was. I felt as if I was promised a gangster epic and although it was a good movie it wasn’t that, and for that reason, I think I was set up to be let down.
It’s out November 2nd, pretty much everywhere, check out MovieFone for listings near you. Go see it, it is worth your time and money. And if you think it’s the next brilliant gangster film of the decade, come look for me here, we should have a little chat.