American Gangster – the movie

November 15, 2007

I’ve been meaning to do a review of this movie for the few people who read 😉 Fair warning, if you don’t want any information on this movie other than it was good, then don’t read further.

Last chance….

Are you still here? Okay. J and I met up with a friend of his and her fiancee to see this movie last Sunday. The movie is based on the true life story of Frank Lucas, a narcotics dealer located in New York in the late 60’s and early to mid 70’s. Frank was the driver and collector gangster Bumpy Something-or- other for 15 years leading up to Bumpy’s death of a heart attack of all things. The movie opens with Frank making a collection which involves shooting something. It was a rather gory and surprising opening to a movie. In fact, the first several minutes (10, 15, 30?) was along this same vein. But it was also educational in a way. It was rather surprising to see Frank go to the heroine re-packager (I’m really not sure what to call her) and all the little female worker bees were either in their underwear or naked. Apparently that was so they wouldn’t steal any of the merchandise.

Denzel Washington was fabulous in this role. It’s a little strange to see him playing the part of the bad guy, as it’s not something seen all that often with him. As I was watching, it struck me how introspective he made his character. You could see him watching and not missing a single detail of what went on around him and filing it away for later use.

I haven’t really seen much with Russell Crowe, so I was pleasently surprised at his portrayal of the detective. It was very well executed and very believable. My favorite character portrayal, however, had to have been done by Cuba Gooding Jr. He played another drug dealer and played him in a flamboyent, pimp style. Sadly, there wasn’t enough of him in the movie.

Over all I thought this movie was very well done. Yes there were several moments where I hid my eyes because of the violence, but given the subject of the movie, I can understand why it was needed. As I was watching, I kept thinking of the documentary Urban Cowboys which chronicles the rise of the drug business in Miami during the same time period. It’s amazing the different ways people manage to get drugs into the country, something that is still happening today. I do recommend this movie, but keep in mind, it’s not for the faint of heart or stomach.

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