Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in American Gangster (dir. Ridley Scott, 2007).
This is the most satisfied I've been by a Ridley Scott film since Blade Runner. He's not obtrusive with mythic staginess and layers of forced allusion as he can often be; he just lets the actors and the situations present themselves with a measured clarity. The flip-side of this is that sometimes the level of dramatic tension is not as high as it could be: Washington is generally superb as druglord Frank Lucas, but you feel at times as though you are watching an episode of A&E's Biography about some guy who revolutionized the textile trade. When he does cut loose with a bit of the old ultraviolence and pop one in a rival gangster or smash some joker's face into a piano, you definitely feel the payoff for all those languid stretches. Crowe is good too as Detective Richie Roberts, an affable slob who gradually figures out Lucas' role in the sudden emergence of "Blue Magic," the new purer--and cheaper--strain of heroin that changes the face of junkiedom in New York. Again, when he and Lucas finally come together after two and a half hours, you might expect a little more in the way of fireworks, but the movie is tethered in this regard as in others to what Sir Philip Sidney called the "bare was" of history, dealing more or less with the facts as they occurred.
Labels: Ridley Scott