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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

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Posted By on Tue, Nov 6, 2007 at 10:07 AM

MOVIEGOER REVIEW:  AMERICAN GANGSTER

The erosion of  a man's soul and the erosion of society are two themes prevalent in Ridley Scott's explosive and powerful film "American Gangster."  Admittedly, this is the title for a film starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Chazz Palminteri, Harvey Keitel and an aging Warren Beatty.  Of course, it would be directed by Martin Scorsese and it would be brilliant.  Instead, this is a film from action master Scott whose finer work has included "Blade Runner," "Thelma & Louise," "Black Hawk Down" and "Gladiator."  The film stars the inimitable Denzel Washington as Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, a street hustler who gobbles up the drug trade by importing the purest heroin from southeast Asia during the Vietnam war.  His nemesis is New Jersey cop Richie Roberts, played by Russell Crowe.  Roberts, blacklisted from his unit for turning in $1 million in cash he found in the trunk of a car, is given a special federal drug task force assignment.  His work leads him to Lucas who, at his zenith, was the more powerful than the mafia, something unheard of at the time.

Based on a true story, and with a running time of 160 minutes, audiences have a good while to get to know the separate lives of Frank and Richie.  It's not until the very end of the film that we see Lucas and Roberts, I mean Washington and Crowe, in the same frame talking to one another.  And that's probably my only critique for a film that otherwise has very little wrong with it.  It's fun, vibrant, well acted and well executed.  Let the awards rush in.

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