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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Movie Review: American Gangster

American Gangster...American Gangster...American Gangster has a beginning, and a middle, and even an end. People talk, do stuff, want things. Other people get killed and beat up, and eventually the movie ends.
I've debated whether or not I should review this movie. It's not because I didn't like the movie, I've been waiting to write a review savaging a film. I was unsure because I didn't love the movie nor did I hate it. It was just there. And I'm not even sure what about this movie didn't click with me. It just didn't. But I suppose nobody said movie reviews are easy.
American Gangster is the "based on a true story" movie that follows Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) as he becomes a New York City druglord and follows Richie Roberts (Russel Crowe) as the straight arrow police officer who attempts to rid the streets of drugs. In some ways, the two men are mirror images of each other. Both are consider outsiders in their industry. One lives a good personal life but has a morally suspect occupation. One is moral in his occupation but has issues with his personal life. One man is living the "high life" while the other is struggling financially. I suppose all this duplicity somehow fits into some overall theme or meaning but it's all Greek to me. Or Ebonics, as the case may be.
The acting is superb. But with a cast including Denzel Washing, Russel Crowe, and Kevin Corrigan I would expect nothing else. OK, I mention Kevin Corrigan (better known as Eddie from Grounded for Life) because he seems to show up in a lot of movies that I watch. Particularly gritty gangster movies. But I digress.
Despite good acting and solid plot, nothing grabs me with this movie. It was, for lack of a better word, boring. Most people think this means there wasn't enough explosions for me. And while I do believe a good explosion can only improve a movie, there are plenty of movies I like that are not considered "action packed." One of my all-time favorite movies is The Shawshank Redemption and last I checked Andy and Red weren't engaging in breathtaking gun battles and setting off massive explosions. (That's what sequels are for.) There are other movies I could list but my point is I don't need high octane action to enjoy a movie. But I need something that grabs my attention, and this movie didn't have that something. I suppose watching a gangster use shrewd business tactics and a sharp tongue to rise the to the top of New York's illegal drug ring only to head for a painfully inevitable downfall just doesn't interest me. It felt like Scarface without the action and funny accents.
In the end, I'm not sure if I'd recommend this movie or not. It was critically acclaimed, that's why I was excited to see it. But, despite the good acting, I just wasn't engaged. So if I was asked what my opinion of this movie was I'd have to say that it was just plain boring.

Recap:
The Good: Great acting. There was also female nudity, which is always a plus.

The Bad: Missing that special something to keep my attention.

The Disappointing: You had rooms filled with topless women and they didn't make out. For shame. And where was everyone's favorite American Gangster?

I am 350 pounds, all muscle.

Sure you are Kingpin. Tell that to the two dozen Krispy Kremes your downing.

Drink to Best Accompany this Movie:

Merlot

Classic, sophisticated, perhaps a little boring? I figure American Gangster is like an well-aged, unseasoned steak. It'll taste good enough (supposedly) but don't expect to be wowed. Nothing goes better with a bland steak than a fine Merlot.

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