American Gangster

One of the things I like about this time of year is that the studios bring out all of their heaviest hitters in anticipation of the Oscars, and with the combination of Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, and Ridley Scott, this one is about as heavy-hitting as it gets. As you might expect with two Oscar winners in the lead roles, the acting is outstanding. In addition to the leads, I also particularly liked Cuba Gooding's performance as Nicky Barnes, a friend and rival of Washington's Frank Lucas. Gooding's swagger contrasted perfectly with Washington's more business-like mien. In many ways this is a film about contrasts. There's the obvious one between Frank Lucas--a criminal who, on the other hand, appears to uphold traditional values by providing for his family--and Crowe's Ritchie Roberts--an honest detective whose personal life is in shambles. But there's also, as I mentioned, the comparison between Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes, as well as between Lucas and his former mentor, not to mention between Roberts and his police counterparts. The film's only real problem is its length--if you see it in the theaters with the trailers it'll come out over three hours. Personally, I didn't think it was too long for its content, but in discussions with some other people I have heard some complaints about the pacing, so your mileage may vary. Nevertheless, I do recommend this one, and I'll be pretty surprised if it doesn't get multiple Oscar nominations.

Viewed: 11/9/2007 | Released: 11/1/2007 | Score: A

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