Saturday, September 6, 2008

AMERICAN GANGSTER

AMERICAN GANGSTER
Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Eijofor, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes


"There are two sides to the American dream"




This film is the biopic of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), an African American drug lord. He rose to be a powerful player in the dirty narcotics trade during a tumultuous period in time. An era marred by the Vietnam war and the chaotic volatile situation in the US fueled by anti war protests. As well as the proliferation of heroine in the streets of Harlem in New York. It is also the story of Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe), an honest cop who vowed to stop at nothing to eradicate the menace.

Ridley Scott took his sweet time establishing the background of his main characters. He took the liberty of stretching the story to depict Frank Lucas's family, his connections with his rivals as well as how he was able to export his 'wares' to the streets. His ability to become a top drug kingpin without drawing attention to his trade is what kept Lucas thriving in the business. It is also only towards the last part of the film when his manner of transporting the 'goods' is revealed. Although we are aware that they were being exported from a South East Asian country.

In the same manner, Scott also focuses on the comings and goings of Detective Roberts. His quest to remain as incorruptible as possible in his profession amidst many temptations and distractions. His custody battle with his wife over their young son further aggravates Roberts stressful job.

It is only when the path of these two characters cross that things start to pick up. A cat and mouse game begins. Then eventually with a strange twist of fate, the mouse ends up helping the cat in his quest to rid the streets of the deadly narcotics he propagated himself.

Denzel Washington, as usual gave a good performance as Frank Lucas. Never going overboard with his acting. Russell Crowe was equally good in his supporting role. The setting was authentic with its depiction of New York city in the early 70s where disco and bell bottoms reign supreme. Overall, it was an interesting biopic of a man whose story had to be told lest it fades away in the annals of oblivion.

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