Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. 100
    Gangs of New York is something better than perfect: It's thrillingly alive.
  2. A magnificent throwback to an almost vanished era of epic filmmaking by great filmmakers in thrall to their own passions, rather than to the studio bookkeepers.
  3. Everything is vast and hugely ambitious in Martin Scorsese's magisterial, scrambled historical epic.
  4. 90
    A grand achievement in history and anthropology, supporting its ambition and scope with a sumptuous re-creation of the period and an immediacy that allows a forgotten past to barrel into the present.
  5. 90
    This is historical filmmaking without the balm of right-thinking ideology, either liberal or conservative. Gangs of New York is nearly a great movie. I suspect that, over time, it will make up the distance.
  6. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    It's a magnificent achievement—holes, tatters, crudities, screw-ups, and all.
  7. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    This daring, perhaps confusing declaration of irrelevance suggests that the epic is a form a director like Scorsese must subvert even as he invokes it. But it doesn't erase the sordid splendor of Scorsese's congested, conflicted, entrancing achievement.
  8. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Bears all the earmarks of a magnum opus for Martin Scorsese: Fascinating and fresh material about his beloved New York City, an epic reach, an equally epic gestation period, a dynamic criminal element, combustible socio-political-religious elements, outstanding actors and sophisticated allusions to cinema history that inform and enrich the experience.
  9. Scorsese creates a film so resonant that it is both a work of great art and an anthropological document.
  10. 88
    Rips up the postcards of American history and reassembles them into a violent, blood-soaked story of our bare-knuckled past.
  11. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    If Martin Scorsese's staggeringly ambitious one-of-a-kind finally has too many flaws to be great, it has as much greatness in it as any movie this year.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Scorsese and his team of Grade A talents are working on an operatic scale here, and like many operas, this is long, overwrought, sprawling, and more than frequently brilliant. It also hits just enough discordant notes to keep it from greatness.
  13. Each major character is complex, none more so than Bill. He's almost Shakespearean in scope.
  14. Reviewed by: Rich Cline
    This is a spacious, robust movie that grabs hold of us and doesn't let go for nearly three hours.
  15. Throbs with an ambition that sends it soaring, then brings it down.
  16. The best Scorsese we've seen in a decade.
  17. The movie is strong in sound and fury, weak in nuance and insight.
  18. The movie turns choppy in the final third, but it is a monumental achievement nonetheless.
  19. Though never dull and often visually beautiful, this work of operatic sweep doesn't fulfill its own ambitions.
  20. Lacks one thing -- an epic grandeur.
  21. 75
    Doesn't come close to masterpiece status. There are some great individual scenes and a tremendous performance by Daniel Day-Lewis, but the connecting material is mediocre, leading to the occasional twinge of dissatisfaction.
  22. 75
    There is greatness in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York: titanic acting, violent poetry, moviemaking on a grand scale, a real air of daring. And there is flab in it as well, and confusion.
  23. All of Scorsese's movies deliver a mixed message, but this one is downright schizophrenic.
  24. Stunning, and it has the added bonus of being about an era that is virtually new to movies. As a dramatic achievement, however, it is not quite so amazing.
  25. 63
    Gangs of New York is many things, but a masterpiece is not one of them. It is primarily, and somewhat surprisingly, a poky western, with a vengeful orphan.
  26. While the initial sequence is glorious, the last is a shambles.
  27. 63
    Unfortunately, it lacks emotional lift or folkloric fervor.
  28. 60
    "Gunsmoke" meets "Planet of the Apes" in Martin Scorsese's overlarge, overcooked epic of 19th century Manhattan. You should see it anyway.
  29. 60
    Scorsese and his writers have saddled their dream with a corny plot apparently lifted from some old 1930s Warner Bros. film starring Jimmy Cagney and Pat O'Brien.
  30. 60
    Cost well over $100 million, and the money is up there for the gawking. Illuminated by the orange flames of hell, the vast New York City set looks great. The least engaging aspect of the movie is its script -- which passed through the hands of three separate writers and perhaps even producer Harvey Weinstein.
  31. 60
    The problem here lies not in the abundance of blood--we've seen that before--but in the film's pounding insistence, which prevails for all two hours and 40 minutes, that we also absorb a rather thin and unreliable history lesson.
  32. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Gangs is a dream project Scorsese has wanted to make for 30 years. You have to honor its mad ambition. But sadly, it feels like a dream too long deferred.
  33. 60
    The movie is strange and muddled -- a disorganized epic -- but Day-Lewis, disporting himself with royal assurance, does what he can to hold it together. [23 & 30 December 2002, p. 166]
  34. The flaw that separates Scorsese's film into its components is its lack of a crystallized theme.
  35. An elaborately worked-over opus that's as tarted-up and artificial as Scorsese's '70s classic Mean Streets was gritty and real, Gangs of New York feels like a movie musical without the songs.
  36. 50
    Epic, meticulously researched and ultimately disappointing, Martin Scorsese's bloody valentine to the birth of his beloved city is less than the sum of its parts.
  37. Under its scope and reach and passion, Gangs of New York is pretty ordinary stuff.
  38. Starts off with a lot of promise and excitement but winds up 165 minutes later feeling empty and affectless.
  39. Scorsese and his team have created a heavy-footed golem of a motion picture, hard to ignore as it throws its weight around but fatally lacking in anything resembling soul.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 274 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 87 out of 129
  2. Negative: 22 out of 129
  1. KevinM
    Feb 22, 2008
    Just about everything that can go wrong with a film goes wrong here. No unifying theme or idea, poor writing and characterization with equally poor acting, terrible use of music (who the hell chose that song to play during the opening fight?), and a trite use of the twin towers at the very end. Never at any point in this movie are we offered a single reason to care about it or any of the characters and it seems never once did they ask "why are we even making this film?" It's a purposeless and overrated flop from a very good director. Full Review »
  2. Joseph
    Feb 27, 2007
    Excellent movie. Amazing acting. Original and chaotically beautiful. Gritty and intriguing. You should give this movie a chance unless the only action you enjoy is the standard "action flick." Full Review »
  3. ConorS.
    Jun 26, 2007
    This is one of Scorsese's finest accomplishments. Though Leo fails to really step it up and deliver, he does fine and hands the spotlight to the far superior (in this film) Daniel Day Lewis, who is fascinating to watch and at the same time chilling. Though he plays the villain, I found myself rooting for him after the first half of the film. Full Review »