Movies on DVD Review: American Gangster

American Gangster

Formerly titled, “Tru Blu,” “Superfly,” and “Gangsta.” (joking)


Starring Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, and Ted Levine. Directed by Ridley Scott.


NOTE: This review is based on the extended, unrated version.


Ridley got his paycheck.


Straying from the usual “epics” Scott is known for (“Blade Runner,” “Alien,” “Gladiator,” “Kingdom of Heaven”) he tackles the “real life” story of Frank Lucas, a black man with precision and professionalism, along with cutthroat tactics, that kept his empire in-family as he single-handedly controlled heroin in New York during the late 60’s / early 70’s. Trying to figure out how heroin was becoming the “new” drug is Detective Richie Roberts, the most honest cop since Serpico; he became “vilified” after he turned in $1 million found in the back of a car. What follows is the usual “rise and fall” of a druglord and a cop’s redemption.


I liked this movie, but didn’t love it. The acting was good, the story was interesting, the characters were believable, and kudos to Ridley Scott for being a stickler for even minute detail, but… I wasn’t a big fan. And maybe it’s just me. I’ve watched about every other movie in the “drug” genre; “Carlito’s Way,” “Scarface,” “Blow,” “Traffic,” etc. It’s been done to death for me. But I digress.


The message that comes from this movie is two-handed. On one hand, it’s the fact that a black American (or African-American) has the business smarts, nay entrepreneurship, to create an empire the likes of which no one believed, or wanted to believe. It’s an example of the “American Spirit;” the ability to accomplish something when others scoff at the idea.


The message from the other hand is the consequences of actions made. E.g., Lucas hires his immediate family to keep it all “in-house.” The consequences: they all end up in prison. He builds up the largest heroin empire New York has seen. The consequences: once he gets out of prison (after 15 years) he has to live in what’s left of the world that he decimated to create his empire.


All in all, an enjoyable movie. Interestingly enough, the real Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts served as consultants on the film. Feel free to Wiki search Frank Lucas and see how different the facts from the film are (hence the “inspired by a true story” label on the poster/DVD). Ridley and the screenwriters did take a few liberties (as do all Hollywood movies) but this is a movie, not a documentary (and Scott took less liberties with Frank Lucas as compared to Oliver Stone and “The Doors.”)


My grade: B

2 Responses to “Movies on DVD Review: American Gangster”

  1. April 17, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Ridley Scott seems to have a knack for making amazing movies, not just so they look good, but so they contain tons of real-life value


  2. 2 chasness
    April 18, 2008 at 12:08 am

    thanks for your comments


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: