American Gangster

American Gangster

Ridley Scott (2007)

18 Certificate
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Our Score
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.


The story of 1970s drug kingpin Frank Lucas, whose innovative methods of smuggling heroin into the US made him one of the leading figures in the New York underworld. A detective is assigned to bring Lucas's empire down, but his investigation is undermined by police corruption. Ridley Scott's fact-based crime drama, starring Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Josh Brolin.

Cast & Crew

Frank Lucas Denzel Washington
Det Richie Roberts Russell Crowe
Huey Lucas Chiwetel Ejiofor
Det Trupo Josh Brolin
Laurie Roberts Carla Gugino
Det Lou Toback Ted Levine
Nicky Barnes Cuba Gooding Jr
Tango Idris Elba
Director Ridley Scott
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: UniversalGuidance: Violence, drug abuse. Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 16 Nov 2007