Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Review: American Gangster (2007) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Steven Zaillian (written by) Mark Jacobson (article)
Genre: Crime / Drama / Thriller
MPAA: Rated R for violence, pervasive drug content and language, nudity and sexuality.
Released: 2 November 2007
Starring: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Lymari Nadal, Ted Levine, Roger Guenveur Smith, John Hawkes, RZA, Yul Vazquez, Malcolm Goodwin, Ruby Dee, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Carla Gugino, Skyler Fortgang, Cuba Gooding Jr, Armand Assante, Clarence Williams III.

In 1970s America, a detective works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas, a heroin kingpin from Manhattan, who is smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East.

Review: 8/10

My Thoughts: I have been wanting to see American Gangster for sometime now but unfortunately was unlucky to catch in theaters, but like all films I miss on the big screen I always end up reviewing later on DVD, so basically it was just a miner setback but I finally got to see it and I say it has got to be one of the best Gangster flicks I have seen in the last ten years, it is in the same respect as Scarface and The Untouchables showing you the rise of New York cities most naturist Drug kingpin of the 1070’s Frank Lucas, showing his rise to power and how at one point he was more powerful than that of the Italian mafia by controlling the drug triad and bringing in the most pure and strongest drugs into the united states and selling it at less than half the going rate of his competitors, Frank Lucas pretty much embodies the very concept of the American Dream, he started from nothing and rouse to power and fame in both New York and New Jersey earning him friends and enemies in high places, see the reason why I consider this film to be much like Scarface and The Untouchables is because much just like Scarface, you see the rise and downfall of Frank Lucas, which you have to admire in a way, not that I’m saying drugs is a good thing, no far from it, I’m highly against the use of drugs may they be legal or illegal I just don’t like em in any way, but I admire the hole idea of one individual going from nothing and becoming something the next which is what the American Dream is right?, I consider this a lot like The Untouchables because to bring down Frank Lucas’s drug empire detective Richie Roberts assembles a crack team of individuals together who are signifigently to bring him down while at the same time cracking down on the corruption in the police department under Frank’s take and that of others in organized crime.

I also like the film’s runtime, clocking in at 2 hours 37 minutes or at 2 hours 57 minutes if you watch the unrated and extended cut, but whichever cut you see you’ll never loss interest for single moment, I personally prefer the unrated and extended cut to any movie I watch over the theatrical cut because 1. It explains more of the story even though it may drag on a little too ling at times than it should, and 2. It how the director originally intended the film to be, and not the cutup MPAA approved version we all see in theaters, and specking of which, director Ridley Scott did a fantastic job in making this film, now I must worn you guys because I‘ve been debating this over with a few people for the last couple of days so you don‘t get mislead or confused, if you never seen a Ridley Scott film (A Good Year, Kingdom of Heaven, Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Blade Runner, Alien) than you must know his films are 1. Long, and when I mean long I mean his films are always near two hours in length or sometimes nearing the three hour mark, also if you think that his films are filed with nothing but none stop action, than you’ve sadly mistaken him for his bother Tony Scott, no Ridley is more a man who concentrates his full attention on the story rather than the action, now that no to say he doesn’t make a good action flick, it’s just he has the tendency of keeping the viewer in total suspense with his epic storytelling until the end at which point he blows them away with some pretty hardcore action that combined with his epic sense of directing will have you in awe, which he executes quite nicely in this film.

The Story is about after the death of Harlem mop boss, Bumpy Johnson (Williams III) his driver/enforcer, Frank Lucas (Washington) moves in and takes over as the new boss and expands his power on the streets as the drug kingpin with his drug empire expanding over both New York and New Jersey competing with the Italian Mafia and other smaller crime syndicates making him both allies and enemies (more enemies than anything), meanwhile detective Richie Roberts, a man who is looked down on by his own fellow officers in his precinct because during a bust he discovers almost a million dollars in cash and instead of keeping it like most people would do he turns every last dollar of it in, but his good deed does not go undone as he is made head of the special drug enforcement unit in New Jersey, now his job is to find and arrest the main drug suppliers and put an end to the madness.

As for the acting, Denzel Washington does yet again another fantastic performance that met my expectations greatly and as always I forward to what he does next, Russell Crowe manages to hold his own in this and his performance is as good as Washington’s is, and nether of them under or over compensates each other in this, which I liked because the last thing you want is one great actor being overshadowed or outshined by another, but with the two of them they manage to make something worth watching, and in case no one noticed this is the second film they’ve acted together as good guy bad guy, the first was Virtuosity which both of them played the opposite roles as villain and hero, Chiwetel Ejiofor was also great, I’ve like just everything he’s acted in, from Four Brothers, Serenity, Inside Man, Children of Men, Talk to Me, and now this, man does he know how to pick good roles, and also this is the second time he teaming up as Denzel Washington’s partner, the first was Inside Man, Lymari Nadal acting was just dazzling, as a newcomer to acting I sure will love to see her in future films, Ted Levine was pretty good, although I felt at times his acting portrayed his character from the hit TV series Monk, but I’ll let that slid since I thought he was good in this, Armand Assante was fantastic, he’s one of those actors has this natural sinister look to him that says he’s not to be trusted, Cuba Gooding Jr. was also fantastic as always, Carla Gugino performance was quite nice in this even though her runtime was extremely small, Clarence Williams III great, he acted performance as Bumpy Johnson was outstanding.

Final Say: I really had fun watching American Gangster, both director Ridley Scott and the cast was magnificent, and I’d love to give this another go someday, I highly recommend it.

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