American Gangster is a fast paced thriller with so many twists and turns you don't realize it is almost a three hour film until it is over. Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, two of Hollywood’s finest star in this feature film. Bringing a true story to the big screen can be a daunting task, but Ridley Scott (director) and Steve Zallian (screenwriter) manage to in a big way. The set scene is in Harlem back in the 1970's when drugs and gangsters were notorious on every street corner. Denzel is Frank Lucas, a quiet driver for one of the city's leading crime boss, until he passes away suddenly, with no one in charge to rule his empire. Frank using all the knowledge received from his late boss decides to create his own power and become the new head honcho. Using his own philosophy of going straight to the source, and cutting out the middle man, he begins to create his own empire. Supplying drugs at a purer substance for half the price. In doing so Lucas manages to fulfill all of his dreams and becomes a legend.
Russell is introduced as Richie Roberts, a cop who is looked down upon after he turns in a million dollars he found in the trunk of a car. While monitoring the streets he finds his passion to be eliminating the drug scene, including a few fellow cops he believes to be dirty. Richie soon heads up a special unit in charge of monitoring drug trafficking and arresting those involved. Before long Frank Lucas becomes the object of Richie's obsession as he becomes determined to bring him to justice. Two men whose ethics are so similar will come to heads, where only one man can be left standing. As we enter the final rounds, we really see the screen light up with intense action and thrills.
A dark tale of gangsters and drugs eventually turns into a Cinderella fairy tale. A definite Oscar nod not only for the amazing Denzel, but for Crowe as well. These two actors embodied the characters and had stand-out performances. I find myself wanting to watch this great film all over again to enjoy the true quality acting that was offered, that we see so little of today. The setting for this film was dead on, capturing the true life of Harlem in the 1970's. This gripping tale has you wanting to know more about Mr. Lucas and his path to fame. I found myself googling him, and you will too!
Review By: Jolene Mendez