Saturday, November 17, 2007

American Gangster

The new film from director Ridley Scott is based on the true story of Harlem Drug lord, Frank Lucas. It is another in a long history of gangster movies with not much new to tell. A gangster rise to the top and is brought down by a relentless cop. What keeps you watching are the strong performances.

Mr. Scott captures the gritty streets of New York in the early '70's and the film has the look and feel of a "Serpico" or "Prince of The City". As Frank Lucas, Denzel Washington has never been smoother. Whether shooting someone point blank or serving Thanksgiving dinner, he inhabits his character completely but we never see much of the man behind the criminal. As Richie Roberts, the cop who eventually brings him down, Russell Crowe is just as good in the less flashy role. In many ways, we learn more about Robert's character than we do Lucas as too much screen time is devoted to a custody battle with his ex-wife and his internal struggles within the police department.

The story behind Mr. Lucas's rise to the top is actually fascinating. Thinking like a businessman and not a street thug, he devised an ingenious way to bring heroin into the US and distribute high quality drugs for low prices.

His rise and fall certainly makes for a good story but this dark film is more informative than entertaining and anyone looking for sparks between Washington and Crowe will be disappointed. They literally only have a few scenes together towards the end of the film.

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