American Gangster

American Gangster

American Gangster

Nobody used to notice Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), the quiet driver to one of the inner city's leading black crime bosses. But when his boss suddenly dies, Frank exploits the opening in the power structure to build his own empire and create his own version of the American dream. He comes to rule the inner-city drug trade in the 70s, flooding the streets with a purer product at a better price. Lucas outplays all of the leading crime syndicates and becomes a civic superstar.

Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an outcast cop close enough to the streets to feel a shift of control in the drug underworld. Roberts believes someone is climbing the rungs above the known Mafia families and begins to suspect that a black power player has come from nowhere to dominate the scene. Both Lucas and Roberts share a rigorous ethical code that sets them apart from their own colleagues, making them lone figures on opposite sides of the law. The destinies of these two men will become intertwined as they approach a confrontation where only one of them can come out on top.

2008Rating: R16, contains violence, offensive language, drug use & sex scenesUSA
DramaTrue Story & Biography
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Reviews & comments

Variety

Variety

press

American Gangster wants to be a great epic crime saga so badly you can feel it. The true story at its core -- of the rise, fall and redemption of a '70s-era Harlem drug lord -- is so terrific, it's amazing it wasn't put onscreen long ago, and it would be difficult today to find two better actors to pit against one another, as hoodlum and cop, respectively, than Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

0
Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone

press

Call it the black "Scarface" or "the Harlem Godfather" or just one hell of an exciting movie, but the fact-based, 1970s-era American Gangster is already looking like a major awards contender.

0
Newshub

Newshub

press

Great story, an even better script and some standout performances. An authentic cinematic snapshot of an era and a scene delivered in style and to the tune of a some great 70's sounds...

4.0
0
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

press

It takes nerve to call a film American Gangster: It's more than a movie title, it's the name of a venerable genre that dates to cinema's beginnings. But once you see this finely made and richly satisfying film, you understand it's the only title possible.

0
Empire Magazine

Empire Magazine

press

An entertaining romp through familiar cop-and-crim cat-and-mousery, bolstered by strong star turns from Washington and Crowe. Still, it has neither the intelligence nor the grip to jump from the merely good to the truly great.

3.0
0
Dominion Post

Dominion Post

press

American Gangster is a film crying out for some insight, context and humanity. What we get is a lumpen parade of set pieces – peopled by simplistic stereotypes – masquerading as the truth.

It's entertaining enough, but can you imagine how good this material could have been in the hands of Martin Scorsese or Spike Lee? Exactly...

3.0
0
BBC

BBC

press

Denzel Washington makes no apologies as the visionary, real-life American Gangster in director Ridley Scott's sharply riveting crime saga. And with Russell Crowe playing the ramshackle detective on Lucas' case, it's a guaranteed shot of pure heart-pumping entertainment.

4.0
0

that it was based on fact gave this story a element of "must see". It tells of some of the interesting aspects of NY crime in days gone by, such that contributed to the city being the most dangerous on earth back then. Whilst seeming like just another in this genre, the black rather than Italian, who briefly topped the gang scene made the difference.

4.0
0

I think, and watching American Gangster confirmed for me, that Ridley Scott has nothing. He's one of Hollywood's most boring directors - alongside Ron Howard. The film is OK and certainly very watchable. But where's the bite? Where's the angle? The story is told as predicatably and as contrived as possible. Any interest comes from that it's a "true...

2.0
0

saw this last night. It's OK, pretty good, but not great. can see why some people might like it. but i think it had too many ideas. am i meant to be watching a story about a drug lord, or about how a cop who sets up the first federal run narcotics team in New York, or about how one third of new york cops in the 60's were corrupt?? all great ideas, but...

3.0
0
Variety

Variety

press

American Gangster wants to be a great epic crime saga so badly you can feel it. The true story at its core -- of the rise, fall and redemption of a '70s-era Harlem drug lord -- is so terrific, it's amazing it wasn't put onscreen long ago, and it would be difficult today to find two better actors to pit against one another, as hoodlum and cop, respectively, than Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

0
Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone

press

Call it the black "Scarface" or "the Harlem Godfather" or just one hell of an exciting movie, but the fact-based, 1970s-era American Gangster is already looking like a major awards contender.

0
Newshub

Newshub

press

Great story, an even better script and some standout performances. An authentic cinematic snapshot of an era and a scene delivered in style and to the tune of a some great 70's sounds...

4.0
0
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

press

It takes nerve to call a film American Gangster: It's more than a movie title, it's the name of a venerable genre that dates to cinema's beginnings. But once you see this finely made and richly satisfying film, you understand it's the only title possible.

0
Empire Magazine

Empire Magazine

press

An entertaining romp through familiar cop-and-crim cat-and-mousery, bolstered by strong star turns from Washington and Crowe. Still, it has neither the intelligence nor the grip to jump from the merely good to the truly great.

3.0
0
Dominion Post

Dominion Post

press

American Gangster is a film crying out for some insight, context and humanity. What we get is a lumpen parade of set pieces – peopled by simplistic stereotypes – masquerading as the truth.

It's entertaining enough, but can you imagine how good this material could have been in the hands of Martin Scorsese or Spike Lee? Exactly...

3.0
0
BBC

BBC

press

Denzel Washington makes no apologies as the visionary, real-life American Gangster in director Ridley Scott's sharply riveting crime saga. And with Russell Crowe playing the ramshackle detective on Lucas' case, it's a guaranteed shot of pure heart-pumping entertainment.

4.0
0

that it was based on fact gave this story a element of "must see". It tells of some of the interesting aspects of NY crime in days gone by, such that contributed to the city being the most dangerous on earth back then. Whilst seeming like just another in this genre, the black rather than Italian, who briefly topped the gang scene made the difference.

4.0
0

I think, and watching American Gangster confirmed for me, that Ridley Scott has nothing. He's one of Hollywood's most boring directors - alongside Ron Howard. The film is OK and certainly very watchable. But where's the bite? Where's the angle? The story is told as predicatably and as contrived as possible. Any interest comes from that it's a "true...

2.0
0

saw this last night. It's OK, pretty good, but not great. can see why some people might like it. but i think it had too many ideas. am i meant to be watching a story about a drug lord, or about how a cop who sets up the first federal run narcotics team in New York, or about how one third of new york cops in the 60's were corrupt?? all great ideas, but...

3.0
0