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76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 287 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Nobody used to notice Frank Lucas, the quiet driver for one of the inner city's leading black crime bosses. But when his boss suddenly dies, Frank exploits the opening in the power structure to build his own empire and create his own version of the American Dream. Through ingenuity and a strict business ethic, he comes to rule the inner-city drug trade and floods the streets with a purer product at a better price. Lucas outplays all of the leading crime syndicates and becomes not only one of the city's mainline corrupters, but part of its circle of legit civic superstars. Richie Roberts is an outcast cop close enough to the streets to feel a shift of control in the drug underworld. Roberts believes someone is climbing the rungs above the known Mafia families and starts to suspect that a black power player has come from nowhere to dominate the scene. Both Lucas and Roberts share a rigorous ethical code that sets them apart from their own colleagues, which makes them lone figures on opposite sides of the law. The destinies of these two men will become intertwined as they approach a confrontation in which only one of them can come out on top. (Universal) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
  1. 100
    This is an engrossing story, told smoothly and well, and Russell Crowe's contribution is enormous.
  2. 89
    Crowe has rarely been better, and the same goes for director Scott, who parallels and then dovetails Lucas and Roberts' stories with sublime, gritty precision, working up to a magnificent "Godfather III"-style crosscutting sequence that electrifies an already explosive tale.
  3. 83
    This impressive film feels more like a display, if an often dazzling one, than a genuine experience.
  4. Meticulous and detailed, a drug-world epic that holds you from moment to moment, immersing you in the intricate and sleazy logistics of crime. Yet the movie isn't quite enthralling; it's more like the ghost version of a '70s classic.
  5. Ridley Scott gives it the grand treatment, 157 minutes worth, but in the end, it doesn't stack up as the portrait of an era (the 1970s, in this case) or an important tale of a criminal mastermind.
  6. Greatness hovers just outside American Gangster, knocking, angling to be let in.
  7. 50
    Offers only the stingiest platform for its actors, and as a piece of storytelling -- built on the foundation of a great story -- it's an epic that's been sliced and diced into so many little morsels that almost nothing in it has any weight.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 87 out of 115
  2. Negative: 13 out of 115
  1. Sep 13, 2010
    9
    I thought gave a very good insight on life during the time period it took place in. The acting was absolutely amazing and the story in general was fascinating. Expand
  2. Sep 15, 2013
    9
    By all accounts, American Gangster is an exceptional film. The story is thorough, character development is deep and there is just so much detail without any fillers. Every moment is suspenseful and enjoyable and has a point. It is a film of few words; where the most powerful moments last a few seconds, and nothing is over-emphasized. If you've been praying for a movie that is pure and has no special effects or Hollywood shenanigans, this is it. A must watch for those that like The Godfather or Scarface. Expand
  3. Jan 22, 2014
    9
    The ultimate 21st century gangster picture, not as seemingly good as 2006's The Departed, American Gangster plunges into the realm of harsh Harlem as daunting as ever. It's driven by a great performance by Denzel Washington in an unbelievably outstanding motion picture. The director Ridley Scott swings together a subject and narrative that is so strong and eminent, you won't know whats coming or what may happen next. Especially being based on a true story, to authenticate a story and make it feel like true cinema without reminding yourself of history and just drawing out the vision is amazing. This movie sky rockets and something that you cannot miss. Expand
  4. j30
    Feb 13, 2012
    8
    Ridley Scott's American Gangster is a well-acted crime drama that far from a masterpiece, but a very well made film. I liked Denzel Washington's character in this gangster pic than I did in Training Day, which felt a little forced. Russell Crowe is a fantastic actor if given the opportunity. Expand
  5. Sep 20, 2013
    7
    This movie really gets into every corner about the story it is telling. This is a very well executed film, with strong lead performances and great directing style. This is definitely a very good crime film. Expand
  6. Jul 22, 2013
    7
    Based on a true story American Gangster tells the story of Frank Lucas, a crime lord who took on the Mafia by importing heroin directly from Thailand, then selling it cheaper. The one clean cop in a sea of corruption, Richard Roberts, sets out to stop his drug trade and put Lucas behind bars.

    The film is told almost in documentary style with the focus firmly on the plot and characters involved. Both leads, Russell Crowe and Denzil Washington, are as impressive as ever really getting to grips with their characters and making them come across as very believable.

    Perhaps running a fraction to long American Gangster nevertheless tells an entertaining cat and mouse story that is intelligent and entertaining enough to hold the attention of most viewers.
    Expand
  7. May 7, 2011
    0
    Watching this movie felt like doing chores. Plot didn't make me interested at all. Didn't see anything special from performances by Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe (who is one of my favorite actors, so seeing him in this piece of turd was very disappointing). Overall, an overrated movie. Expand

See all 115 User Reviews

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