'American Gangster' Doesn't Rise to the Level of 'Scarface'

Maui Time | October 26, 2007
Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe deliver inspired performances as rivals from opposite sides of the law in director Ridley Scott's true-crime epic about '70s era Harlem drug king Frank Lucas (played by Denzel Washington) and the honest cop (played by Russell Crowe) who brings him down. Before smuggling 100 kilos of heroin from Southeast Asia with help from the U.S. military during the Vietnam war, Frank Lucas usurps his respected crime boss mentor Bumpy Johnson when he drops dead from a heart attack. Upstanding Harlem community figure Frank undercuts his competition's drug prices and builds a cartel that enables him to marry Miss Puerto Rico, and move his family to New York from North Carolina. Although entertaining American Gangster fails to rise to the level of movies like Scarface or The Godfather due, in part, to a lack of vision by cinematographer Harris Savides and Marc Streitenfeld's underachieving musical score. (B+)

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Maui Time Weekly provides insightful analysis and in depth reporting. We believe some issues are so important they require thoughtful consideration. We are not a “paper of record”—a daily journal of government meetings, ribbon-cuttings and corporate announcements. We decide what’s...
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