ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – Z – American Gangster (2007) Movie Review

This is under Z because of the screenplay writer Steven Zaillian.

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Steven Zaillian (Screenplay) Mark Jacobson (Article)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin, Lymari Nadal, Ted Levine

Plot: An outcast New York City cop is charged with bringing down Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, whose real life inspired this partly biographical film.


Tagline – When Hoodlum Bumpy influences American Gangster Frank Lucas

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Overly Long Gangster Film

Story: American Gangster starts with the death of the most powerful man in Harlem, Frank Lucas (Washington) his righthand man steps up to take control of the business, where he first sees everything getting out of hand before making a major move to bring the heroin directly to America for his own team to cut and profit for.

Richie Roberts (Crowe) has been tackling the drug problem in Harlem for years, losing friends and a marriage to the world, he is given a team to look to take down the biggest people involved in the industry, in what becomes a battle of wits between Frank and Richie.

Thoughts on American Gangster

Characters – Frank Lucas steps into the role of Drug Lord of Harlem, he builds the business bigger than his mentor, he increases the money, bringing in a new deadly wave of drug usage, he will kill anyone that gets in his business, he will not accept loose ends in any of his dealings, which sees him become the biggest drug lord in the country. Richie Roberts is the New York prosecutor that has been trying to take down the drug world for years, it has cost him friendships, his marriage and soon to be son, he is one of the few remaining honest cops and gets given a team of his own choice to track the new increase in drug usage in the city. We do meet Frank’s family that are all in the business with him, working for him helping him raise his power in the city, his wife Eva who knows he has been breaking the law, but enjoys the money that comes with him and Detective Trupo an FBI agent that is on the take to keep Frank safe, he will always look to collect his payments no matter what is going on.

PerformancesDenzel Washington and Russell Crowe are both great in this film, they both bring the characters to life as we understand both sides of their lives through the film. We do have an excellent supporting cast too who are all flawless in the film.

StoryThe story here follows the rise of drug lord in New York where he become the most powerful man in the city and how one prosecutor risked everything to try and stop him, turning everyone in his own life against him. This is based on the real drug lord and the man that tried to track him down, it shows how both men’s lives changed through these years, one rose to fame, while the other lose everything because of his determination to stop the drug trade. We do get some excellent scenes which show the different lives the people have been living through this time, usually the holiday times, though we don’t get enough of the smaller details.

Biopic/CrimeLooking at the two main men’s lives show us how things changed and were risked to make the moves to do what they thought was right, it does show the criminal actions being conducted by Frank and his people.

SettingsThe New York setting will show how the neighbourhoods would work together to make the business strong.


Scene of the Movie – The solo conversation.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting look at one of the biggest gangsters in the history of America and what he did to change the system forever.

Overall: Strong Story, Too Long Film.