Anthony's Film Review
American Gangster (2007)
Two memorable parallel stories involving drugs, money, corruption, and power...
When you have a movie that stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, both Academy Award-winning actors, and is directed by Ridley Scott, you don't expect it to go wrong. Rest assured that American Gangster holds strong enough because of these three. I will say that it's not the greatest film ever, but it's well above average. There are plenty of reasons to applaud this film.
Denzel Washington is Frank Lucas, a black drug kingpin in late 1960s and early 1970s Harlem. He goes from rags to riches by establishing a drug empire like a cunning businessman. Instead of getting drugs from middlemen to resell himself, he goes as far as traveling to Southeast Asia to buy straight from the opium farms. Through assistance from U.S. soldiers fighting in Vietnam, Frank gets the drugs shipped to America in the coffins of dead soldiers. He sells this very pure drug for a cheap price, and the rest is history.
Meanwhile, Russell Crowe is Richie Roberts, a detective who works closely with very corrupt officers. When he becomes aware of a new heroin product hitting the streets of New York, it's up to him to track it down. This is a good time to mention the irony presented for the two main characters. Frank Lucas the drug kingpin is the one who is wealthy and able to buy his large family a new mansion, but Richie Roberts the cop is the one who is poor and going through a divorce despite what he is supposed to represent. It certainly makes the story more interesting and less idealistic than what people may expect. It also brings out great performances by Washington and Crowe. Frank Lucas is at the top and thinks he's unstoppable while Richie Roberts is always maintaining his honesty while carrying a badge.
I will say that the film is quite predictable, but it's still nice to wait and see how it exactly plays out. The two plot lines move at a pace that isn't slow but still could be somewhat faster. They actually do not intersect until the last twenty minutes of the film. Until then, they are parallel and remain that way until one of them catches up with the other fairly quickly. The last part of the film is good enough to be worth the wait. Nevertheless, after seeing the film, I predicted that American Gangster will get nominations for the two stars and the screenplay, and that's it.
The last thing I will mention is the interesting way the film depicts the American Dream. According to both Frank Lucas and the corrupt cops, it is achieved through whatever means possible, even if it means others pay for it. But in the end, that is only in the short term. Money and power do not always equal lifelong success. Only one thing can truly provide happiness, and that is honor.
For more information about American Gangster, visit the Internet Movie Database.