American Gangster

The heavyweights team up for this film and it shows, Ridley Scott directs Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in the true story of Frank Lucas a big time drugs baron in the late sixties. The story is rooted in truth so doesn’t have the theatrics of say ‘The Departed’ but it is a traditional cops and robbers story played out brilliantly by all involved. Washington is brilliant as the uber cool Lucas ducking and diving his way around the big city with all his brothers fronting what appear to be legitimate business’s that actually launder the drugs and money. Crowe (Richie) is the cop determined to take down Frank’s organisation and find out where the stuff comes from and which cops pockets are being lined to let Frank become so powerful in the first place. Will Richie the laughing stock of the force behind closed doors, he refuses to take bribes and even returned a million pounds he found in a car, manage to hold on to his integrity and get the job done?. There is a very powerful scene in the middle of the film that flicks between Franks mansion and Richie’s flat, Frank carving up an enormous turkey with all the trimmings and Richie making a crisp sandwich, it just goes to illustrate how far apart these two are, being good doesn’t bring you wealth and happiness seems to be the message but will Frank get his comeuppance eventually or will the mouse always stay one step ahead of the cat?  The whole way the film is shot with a pale wash bleeds the colours out slightly and gives a very authentic feel that works well when it cuts in actual footage of Vietnam, Nixon giving a speech or the recreation of a famous Mohammed Ali fight. But it really is the two main characters that give this film its momentum and without the performances of Washington and Crowe it wouldn’t have half the impact it does and it’s a story so wild it’s hard to believe it actually happened. Gritty, real and engaging American Gangster is up there with any film by Scorsese or Stone and sees Ridley back on top form where he belongs.

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