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American Gangster

Plot overview: A story set in the late 1960's/early 1970's in Harlem, about a guy who masterminds a huge drug network. People get killed, there are lots of bad hairstyles and you'll get quite used to seeing people shooting up. Drugs, nakedness, guns and bad language will be rife - but then, you can't say you were really surprised, can you? As a contrast, Frank Lucas the boss lives a lie in his big house, entertaining family and taking his mother to church. Nice.

Who's in it?: Denzel Washington plays the bad guy, Frank Lucas and Russell Crowe plays the whiter-than-white (no pun intended) federal investigator. Perhaps I have a bad memory, but it's a pleasant change to see Washington play "the baddie".

Is it any good?: It's certainly one of the better films of this year, but at over two and a half hours you might get a numb bum. It's certainly not dull, though. Russell Crowe actually shows that he can play the part of someone who isn't annoying and Washington will probably be Oscar nominated for his performance - he plays the cold-hearted villain exceedingly well. The story essentially tracks the building of Frank Lucas's empire and a single investigator's efforts to stop him - despite his own agency being totally corrupt.

Should I go and see it?: Oh yes, you should. It's a well-made film that tells a story. I normally hate that "based on a true story" shit, but this one works - with the only superfluous part being a sub-story relating to the federal agent's custody battle for his son. Otherwise, this film has restored some of my faith in American film, which recently had been somewhat failing. Hurrah for Ridley Scott.

Other reviews: Here, here and here.
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