Summary written by Omar P.L. Moore
Three families are fractured and volatile in Ridley Scott's highly-entertaining and exciting film "American Gangster". Spectacularly understated throughout, with riveting performances by Denzel Washington and Josh Brolin -- both of whom will surely be Oscar-nominated for their roles as real-life Harlem businessman/drug kingpin Frank Lucas and real-life corrupt New York police detective Trupo respectively. Russell Crowe plays Richie Roberts, an honest but personally reckless Newark, New Jersey police detective who pursues Lucas but has much bigger fish to fry: the corrupt colleagues who really make like bandits from the death and addiction that ravaged the Big Apple in the chaotic 1970's. Steven Zaillian's script, adapted from Marc Jacobsen's New York magazine article charts a grand scope and collision course within it between Lucas and Roberts, while avoiding glamorization of the "Superfly" chic of the era, but powerfully reminding the audience that behind the money is plenty of dead bodies and disrupted families. Harris Savides's cinematography is mournful (he also shot PopcornReel.com's best film of 2007) and all of the ensemble performances from Ruby Dee to Clarence Williams III to Armand Assante to Chiwetel Ejiofor to RZA to Cuba Gooding, Jr., are practically flawless. And the music, including Marc Streitenfeld's original score, is terrific.
Significant line of the film: "The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room. I told you that." (Spoken by Frank Lucas to Huey Lucas)
Film's length: Two hours and 38 minutes
Read The Original PopcornReel.com Review of "American Gangster"
A Closer Look at "American Gangster"
(Photos of Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington by David Lee/Universal Pictures)