American Gangster

American Gangster

4.3 20
Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor


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Director Ridley Scott spins this yarn concerning a Harlem drug kingpin (Denzel Washington) who smuggles heroin into the country by hiding it in the bodies of U.S. soldiers killed during battle in Vietnam. There was a time when no one noticed reserved driver Frank Lucas (Washington), but when the criminal kingpin he was charged withSee more details below


Director Ridley Scott spins this yarn concerning a Harlem drug kingpin (Denzel Washington) who smuggles heroin into the country by hiding it in the bodies of U.S. soldiers killed during battle in Vietnam. There was a time when no one noticed reserved driver Frank Lucas (Washington), but when the criminal kingpin he was charged with transporting through the city streets suddenly dies, Lucas seizes the opportunity to build his own criminal empire. In the following months, Lucas solidifies his status as Harlem's most innovative drug dealer by delivering a product that is purer than the competitors' and cheaper, as well. When innovative businessman Lukas attempts to go semi-legit by becoming one of the Manhattan borough's biggest civil supporters, however, street-savvy outcast cop Ritchie Roberts (Russell Crowe) begins to sense a sizable shift in the hierarchy of the drug underworld. But Roberts is one of the few honest detectives operating within a corrupt system, and as he sets out to investigate the case, crooked detective Trupo (Josh Brolin) does everything in his power to compromise the integrity of his idealistic counterpart. Upon clearing all of the usual Mafia-connected suspects, Roberts begins to believe that a previously unknown black power player has come out of the woodwork to dominate the local drug trade. While Roberts and Lucas may be operating on opposite sides of the law, the one thing that both men have in common is a strict code of ethics that separates them from their opportunistic colleagues. Now, as a confrontation between the two men becomes inevitable and the fate of each becomes inexorably tied to the other, it gradually becomes apparent that only one of them will emerge from the conflict victorious.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
The difference between early Ridley Scott, like The Duellists and Alien and late-period Ridley Scott, like Black Rain and Hannibal, is the difference between "stylish" and "slick." In the former, the look of a film -- the photography, the art direction, the costuming -- is as much the subject of the film as whatever the story happens to be. In the latter, all the emphasis on surface things only underscores the fact that there is nothing going on at the heart of the films. American Gangster is a welcome return to the "stylish" Ridley Scott. Unlike Matchstick Men or Black Hawk Down, American Gangster feels like an impersonal work for the director, and in this case that is a very good thing. Scott allows his remarkably gifted collaborators -- cinematographer Harris Savides, editor Pietro Scalia, and screenwriter Steven Zaillian -- to do what they do best and simply uses his own skills to keep everything moving along in a solid, professional way. Though they are kept apart for the vast majority of the film's 160-minute running time, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe carry their respective sections of the flick with movie-star ease. As larger-than-life criminal mastermind Frank Lucas, Washington gets to utilize his formidable charm while only once falling into the overacting that afflicts him on occasion when playing outright bad guys. As the ethically pure cop out to bring Frank down, Crowe offers his nearly patented brand of brooding physicality. There is nothing new about these characters, or in the film as a whole, but the solidly structured story draws parallels between the two men -- playing up the old "bad guy isn't so bad" and the "good guy isn't so good" themes that might seem incredibly tired in the hands of lesser actors and filmmakers. An end-of-film decision by Frank softens the film a great deal; this is, after all, Hollywood product, and it would be unacceptable to not like both the leads, but seeing as nothing that has come before indicates anyone was aiming for art, this twist can be forgiven. American Gangster is nothing more or less than product, sure to satisfy those who need a genre fix.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Feature commentary with director Ridley Scott and writer Steven Zaillian; Deleted scenes including an alternate opening; Fallen Empire: Making American Gangster; Case files; Hip-Hop Infusion, Featuring Common and T.I.; The BET Special: The Making of American Gangster; Dateline NBC: American Gangster First Look; Music videos

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Denzel Washington Frank Lucas
Russell Crowe Richie Roberts
Chiwetel Ejiofor Huey Lucas
Cuba Gooding Nicky Barnes
Josh Brolin Det. Trupo
Ted Levine Lou Toback
Armand Assante Dominic Cattano
Clarence Williams Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson
John Ortiz Javier J. Rivera
John Hawkes Freddie Spearman
RZA Moses Jones
Lymari Nadal Eva
Yul Vázquez Alfonse Abruzzo
Ruby Dee Mama Lucas
Idris Elba Tango
Carla Gugino Laurie Roberts
Joe Morton Charlie Williams
Common Turner Lucas
Jon Polito Rossi
Kevin Corrigan Campizi
Roger Guenveur Smith Nate
Malcolm Goodwin Jimmy Zee
Ric Young Chinese General
Roger Bart U.S. Attorney
Tip "T.I." Harris Stevie Lucas
KaDee Strickland Richie's Attorney
Ruben Santiago-Hudson Doc
Norman Reedus Detective in Morgue
J. Kyle Manzay Dexter Lucas
Warner Miller Melvin Lucas
Albert Jones Terrence Lucas
Hamilton Clancy Seller

Technical Credits
Ridley Scott Director,Producer
Sarah Bowen Co-producer
Michael Costigan Executive Producer
Jonathan Filley Co-producer
Brian Grazer Producer
Avy Kaufman Casting
Nicholas Lundy Art Director
Branko Lustig Executive Producer
Arthur Max Production Designer
Kathy Nelson Musical Direction/Supervision
Nicholas Pileggi Executive Producer
Darin John Rivetti Asst. Director
William Sarokin Sound/Sound Designer
Harris Savides Cinematographer
Pietro Scalia Editor
Karen Kehela Sherwood Executive Producer
Marc Streitenfeld Score Composer
Jim Whitaker Executive Producer
Janty Yates Costumes/Costume Designer
Steven Zaillian Executive Producer,Screenwriter

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