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American Gangster

Director:  Ridley Scott
Year Released:  2007
Rating:  2.0

Crafty Denzel Washington feeds Harlem heroin (grown in Vietnam) while detective/lawyer Russell Crowe investigates - meanwhile, the police dept. of New York City and the DEA take bribes to look the other way. Movie-going Companion John remarked that it's Goodfellas in the Ghetto and he's correct (the scene where Washington leaves a diner to shoot a rival in the head is pure Pesci), although unlike Scorsese's masterpiece, there's a lack of intensity to this - the only time I was startled was towards the end when Washington impulsively smacks a coffee cup off a table (you'll know it when you get there) and the subplots are given only superficial treatment. The handling of race issues and political issues is awkward - you have an African-American attempting to 'be' an Italian-American but killing his own community and a Jewish-American in pursuit: when it comes to the confrontational scene between Crowe and Roger Bart's character (when slurs are uttered), it doesn't come across convincingly - plus, there are some blatant references to the Iraq Occupation. Otherwise, the performances and casting are top notch - Josh Brolin is having a marvelous year between this, No Country for Old Men and Planet Terror and you'll never hear me complain about either Chiwetel Ejiofor or the RZA.

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