Rolling Stone - 11/01/2007 3.5 stars out of 4 -- "[I]t has bite and timely relevance....Washington and Crowe clash like titans -- they're something to see."
Total Film - 11/01/2007 4 stars out of 5 -- "[With] bravura photography, assured performances and flawless period detail....A top-of-the-range example of genre filmmaking..."
Entertainment Weekly - 11/09/2007
"AMERICAN GANGSTER is meticulous and detailed, a drug-world epic that holds you from moment to moment, immersing you in the intimate and sleazy logistics of crime." -- Grade: B
Empire - 12/01/2007 3 stars out of 5 -- "[U]ndeniably enjoyable....Served up with enough verve to engage."
Uncut - 12/01/2007 4 stars out of 5 -- "Crowe and Washington are extremely charismatic here; particularly Washington, whose man-of-the-people charm disguises a ruthless, shark-like drive..."
Sight and Sound - 01/01/2008
"AMERICAN GANGSTER moves along at quite a clip....[Scott] does bring panache to the film's tense climax..."
Los Angeles Times - 11/02/2007
"[A] finely made and richly satisfying film....[Washington] is always at his best, as he was in the Oscar-winning TRAINING DAY..."
Rolling Stone - 12/27/2007 Ranked #6 in Rolling Stone's "10 Best Movies Of 2007" -- "Ridley Scott digs into this juicy tale with epic style and wit."
Ultimate DVD - 04/01/2008 5 stars out of 5 -- "Scott brings his stylish shot composition and impeccable eye for detail to the streets of Seventies Harlem, melding his striking visuals with an enthralling story..."
British director Ridley Scott may not seem a logical choice for this truly American crime drama, but the filmmaker does an excellent job. The film is based on a true story and set in 1968 Harlem, where Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is a driver for Bumpy Johnson, one of the top figures in the city's criminal world. When Bumpy dies, Lucas swoops in, taking over his predecessor's empire and expanding it over the next few years with his sale of a particularly potent brand of heroin. Meanwhile, New Jersey cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) begins to investigate the New York drug world and discovers that there's a new power in town.
Thanks to screenwriter Steve Zallian, as well as Washington and Crowe, AMERICAN GANGSTER creates a convincing portrait of two men who are neither entirely good nor entirely bad. Washington plays Lucas as a man who buys his mother a palatial home but doesn't hesitate to beat his brother's head against a window. Crowe's Roberts may turn in a million-dollar find, but he cheats on his wife. Sadly, they only meet onscreen toward the end of the film, but the minimal interaction between the two Oscar winners is fascinating. Even though the focus is on Lucas and Roberts, AMERICAN GANGSTER is filled with a wealth of strong characters played by talented actors. It seems everyone with a SAG card turns up for the film, including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Ted Levine, John Hawkes, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Carla Gugino, Ruby Dee, Joe Morton, and rappers T.I. and RZA. It's an epic film, with a run time of over two and a half hours, but it's time well spent. Fans of classic crime films such as THE GODFATHER, SERPICO, and CARLITO'S WAY will certainly be pleased by this addition to the genre.
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