American Gangster

American Gangster Image
Metascore
76

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

User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 345 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 aNobody 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

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
  1. 100
    Denzel Washington dazzles in his best screen performance to date as Frank Lucas.
  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
    Only Washington stands out; he's charming, intense, and charismatic as ever.
  4. It lacks momentum, and thus the propulsion required to rocket it into the movie mythosphere.
  5. Often best around the edges. Without making a big deal about it, Scott reveals how the Mafia, while putting up a businesslike front, deplored the incursion of black gangsters into the drug trade.
  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: 80 out of 119
  2. Negative: 13 out of 119
  1. ChristianS.
    Nov 12, 2007
    10
    The movie is brilliant. Daniel was tremendous. Crowe was spectacular.The support characters were equally impressive. I love the movie. I The movie is brilliant. Daniel was tremendous. Crowe was spectacular.The support characters were equally impressive. I love the movie. I won't mind watching it again. Expand
  2. YueX
    Nov 3, 2007
    10
    here we go again, People are giving one of the greatest movie this year a bad rating, but are support stupid movies such as Dragon wars, here we go again, People are giving one of the greatest movie this year a bad rating, but are support stupid movies such as Dragon wars, Transformers, and the Saw 4, omg, people study film first, dont just watch it without looking into the storyline, this has one of the best story line, I mean, sure, there has been a lot of gangster movies where it shows the cop and the gangster's side of the story but this was based on a true story. I thought it was one of the best this year. And also, it has two of the world's most talented actors; Denzel Washington and Russel Crowe. Now who ever is saying that this movie sucks, take film studies, and also to those who supports cheesy movies such as Dragon wars,Transformers and Rush Hour 3, you should stop reviewing movies, cause you have no idea, what youre talking about, thank you. Expand
  3. ThatemW.
    Mar 24, 2008
    9
    Really great movie. From what I can, a accurate protrail of New York in the 70's. Great mix of action and detective. Crowe and Really great movie. From what I can, a accurate protrail of New York in the 70's. Great mix of action and detective. Crowe and Washington do great. Not too gory either. Expand
  4. ChadS.
    Dec 4, 2007
    8
    If "American Gangster" began with Frank Lucas' formative years as "Good Fellas" did with Henry Hill, the filmmaker would be accused of If "American Gangster" began with Frank Lucas' formative years as "Good Fellas" did with Henry Hill, the filmmaker would be accused of slavish imitation. But "American Gangster" needs to know what makes Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) tick. Despite the long running time, the story feels rushed. Not enough time is spent between Frank and his mentor. We're denied "the making of a criminal" portion of the film. When Frank assumes the leadership role in Harlem, we feel no palpable excitement. We don't know him. "American Gangster" gets off to a slow start, but hang in there, things improve considerably when we finally learn where Frank's roots are planted. The film also concurs the long-held belief by conspiracy theorists that drugs could be prevented from entering the country if law officials wanted this to be the case. But the drug business employs too much people. Frank Lucas is despicable. But he doesn't beat his wife, or rather, did Denzel Washington not want to put his screen image at further risk by hurting a woman? Expand
  5. ChrisCC
    Jan 11, 2008
    7
    Take goodfellas - Chop some off for the brothers - water down some - sell it on cheap. That's the irony right there - shame. But the 7 Take goodfellas - Chop some off for the brothers - water down some - sell it on cheap. That's the irony right there - shame. But the 7 stands cos it ain't bad. Is this really the BladeRunner Ridley at work here or an old man cappin off his pension? Prove me wrong Expand
  6. GeneL
    Nov 12, 2007
    6
    Similar to Michael Mann's Heat, in that the two main actors, Crowe and Washington, do not share the screen until the tail end of the Similar to Michael Mann's Heat, in that the two main actors, Crowe and Washington, do not share the screen until the tail end of the movie, but this film is not as good as Heat. Ridley Scott does a good job of developing the two primary characters, but I found myself not engrossed by their motivations. In the end it really is a run-of-the-mill cops and bad guys flick with some corruption thrown in and cliches. For ex, the obligatory "wife" of the gangster who we don't really care for since her character was not developed. Moreover, we don't care about many of the supporting actors here because the story doesn't really flush them out. I honestly don't understand why the critics are crazy about this flick. It's okay, but really not an instant classic. Performances good. Story mediocre. Expand
  7. OmarC.
    Oct 30, 2007
    0
    I hate you this movie.

See all 119 User Reviews

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