Sunday, January 1, 2017

American Gangster

Learning from his predecessor and mentor, Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) expands Bumpy Johnson's Harlem drug empire through a Vietnam connection while an alcoholic, womanizing detective (Russell Crowe) concentrates the effort to see to his fall. I dismissed Ridley Scott's American Gangster upon its initial release for being too familiar (ie good cop in corrupt system vs. an intelligent, scrupulous drug dealer) but a repeat viewing revealed layers of depth and, when put up against popular drug lord sagas, Steve Zaillian's screenplay demonstrates an uncommon intelligence and patience. It also features two top actors at the top of their game leading a gifted cast.
*** 1/2 out of ****