December 7, 2007

American Gangster - $9

The true story of Frank Lucas comes to life in American Gangster and in the end the audience is left with so much more than a bio movie, this is one of the best movies of 2007.

Frank Lucas took over the heroin trade in New York after the French Connection dope dried up in the 1970's. Lucas found a way to bring better heroin to the US for a fraction of its normal price by going straight to the source in Thailand and having US soldiers in Vietnam smuggle the drugs back into the US for him. This massive advantage gave Lucas instant power and notoriety in a world where the Italian mob normally had no competition.

Lucas does not horde his success but lavishes his family with a great life and never forgets to be a good and respectful man to his mother and for the most part his wife. He involves all his brothers in the wildly successful family "business" which at its height took in a million dollars a day in profit.

In American Gangster's parallel story we follow an honest cop named Richie Roberts who is heading up a drug task force that ends up hot on the tail of Lucas' entire operation. As honest as Roberts is as a cop he is an equally terrible husband and father and cannot get his private life together.

It is this play between good and evil, light and dark, and the many shades of grey in between that fascinated me the most about American Gangster. I found myself painfully aware of the evil in Lucas and yet I was able to also see the good in the man as well. The sames goes for Roberts. The writing in this movie achieves this tension in a way that had me never quite knowing who to route for and enjoying every single minute.

The performances are spot on in American Gangster, each supporting role is played tremendously well and Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe each bring their best performance in years playing Lucas and Roberts respectively. Washington to me should be the early favorite for actor of the year for his portrayal of Lucas, a gentleman who knows how to smooth talk anyone but who also has breaking point and will snap on those who disappoint him. Another performance worth noting is that of Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays one of Lucas' brothers. I've enjoyed Ejiofor in several roles in recent years and he is brilliant in this supporting role alongside Washington.

Ridley Scott directs American Gangster and while his work it hit or miss for me this one is right on the mark. Everything in the look and feel of this movie had me involved and along for the ride from start to finish.

American Gangster is not to be missed. I put it on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $9.


Tony Tanti said...

Some of you may have noticed that I don't use movie posters as the image for my post. Usually that's because I'd rather use a great shot from the movie itself or one that demonstrates a point in my review.

Here I've broken from this tradition to showcase what is definitely one of the best movie posters in a long time. I couldn't resist.

Avid Andy said...

that is a cool poster. i liked the movie, but didn't love it.

Sheamus the... said...

it was good but not great...dont really want to see it again I guess is it's fault in my bag.