American Gangster

  • 18
  • Ridley Scott (2007)
  • US / UK
  • 150 min
American Gangster
Film Review
Reviewed By
4 out of 5

As this true-life New York crime saga (set between 1968 and 1974) evocatively unfolds, master director Ridley Scott makes "big" look easy. Denzel Washington brings a suave tranquillity to his role as emerging Harlem drugs lord Frank Lucas (all the better to explode into sudden violence), while, in parallel, Russell Crowe's honest New Jersey cop Richie Roberts juggles divorce, pariah status within a corrupt police department and, eventually, the logistics of bringing Lucas down. It's as if The Godfather, GoodFellas and Scarface met TV's The Wire: grand overstatement combined with procedural detail and junkie sleaze. Beyond Josh Brolin's poisonously bad cop, a fine supporting cast struggles to make any meaningful impact in the wake of a dominant Washington - not least in the poorly sketched female roles - and fidelity to events takes the dramatic sting out of an operatic climax. Nevertheless, this is still a classy crime fable that succeeds despite sidestepping the electric set pieces of such genre maestros as Martin Scorsese or Brian De Palma.

Plot Summary

Biographical crime drama starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Following the death of his mentor, Frank Lucas establishes himself as the number one distributor of heroin in the US by coming up with a unique new method of importing. But then he attracts the attention of dogged Newark detective Richie Roberts.

Cast and crew


Frank Lucas
Denzel Washington
Richie Roberts
Russell Crowe
Mama Lucas
Ruby Dee
Huey Lucas
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Nicky Barnes
Cuba Gooding Jr
Detective Trupo
Josh Brolin
Lou Toback
Ted Levine
Dominic Cattano
Armand Assante
Javier J Rivera
John Ortiz (1)
Freddie Spearman
John Hawkes
Moses Jones
Laurie Roberts
Carla Gugino
Turner Lucas
Stevie Lucas
Tip Harris
US Attorney
Roger Bart
Detective in morgue
Norman Reedus
Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson
Clarence Williams III
Charlie Williams
Joe Morton
Jon Polito
Lymari Nadal
Roger Guenveur Smith
Idris Elba
Chinese general
Ric Young


Ridley Scott

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Violence, drug abuse.
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 16 Nov 2007
Certificate 18
Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd