In 1863 during the heart of the Civil War and with a major conscription act on the horizon, a young man (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns to the Five Points, a deadly melting pot on the south side of Manhattan, to seek vengeance on the merciless political boss (Daniel Day-Lewis) who took his father's life. Gangs of New York was a years in the making passion project for Martin Scorsese and Jay Cocks (who wrote the screenplay with Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan) whose production was also beset with great difficulties, and the result is an original, full-blooded, imperfect epic. DiCaprio's performance is a mixed bag, alternating between powerful and grossly lacking, a lot of which, I think, has to do with the pairings. For example, Leo will play up to a stronger performer (Day-Lewis) while his work suffers when, how shall I put it, he is met with lesser company (Cameron Diaz is atrocious and a good part of the picture suffers for it). Even the Day-Lewis performance, which I once would have ranked among the greats, while still powerful, often comes off as caricature. Aside from these quibbles with the acting, the rest of the production is on point, highlighted by several heart pounding sequences which include the opening turf war, Day-Lewis' stunt performance, and the draft riots. I must add that this was one of the great, captivating theater experiences I've had and watching it a decade later, though some of its flaws are more evident, much of its greatness is still intact.