The film introduces us the life in the Harlem during the 1970s. Denzel Washington plays Frank Lucas and was a typical member of the gangster who prowls the city to kill somebody for a fee. Although he was a ruthless thug he was loved by his people and always had time to take his mother to church. With his cold-blooded and unrelenting character he was hired as the personal driver and right-hand man of Harlem’s drug magnate, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson. Unknown to him this would lead his life to wealth and then to chaos.
For the review, the setting of the movie is perfect and it portrays the real ambiance of the 70s during the time that drugs are rampant and uncontrolled. Director Ridley Scott has indeed perfected this movie to make sure viewers can feel the real surroundings, how the people in Harlem interact and how Frank Lucas and his men ruled over the city. Ridley also properly selected the actors for their role and installed in them the personality that matches their role. The movie is believable because it was based on a true story and relays to us the true event and situations during that period.
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The thesis of this movie can be found in its context. The title itself shows a wider picture of a nation that is disintegrating because of prostitution, illegal gun and drug trade which was rampant during the 6Os and 70s. The significance of the story connects when the US is making war with Vietnam and instigates political influence of President Nixon and his agenda with other countries. Political instability created unsecured connection between nation and this time Vietnam became the source of illegal drug trading and eventually entered the main heart of New York.
The Harlem, however, was a place where police cannot penetrate and control because gangsters have been able to arm themselves and repel any force that goes into their territories. The influence of drugs and money has infected the law and New York became inhabited by corrupt police officers and state officials who are under the payroll of the drug lords. Drugs dictated the status of life and gangsters were ruling everything and everybody. The main theme of this movie is also apparent. Drugs create evil men and evil men create drugs.
It is a continuous process and has been a social disease for over a century. What makes drugs to be the roots of evil is the money involve in the trade. Drugs and money always correlate and money can buy and move everything regardless of any political or judicial obstacle. All kinds of crimes emanate from greed of money and money comes from drugs easily. Incidentally, the moral fiber of our law cannot be taken for granted. Somebody out there does not agree with the broken judicial system and will ways to put a stop on this.
In this case, Russel Crowe who plays the detective hunts Frank and put him in prison. He plays his role effectively by subjecting Frank to interrogation and strategizes everything to pin him down. Although the illegal trade has already infected the police force, it was the incorruptible Crowe who have uprooted the tree that is bearing the fruit. In the end, the good prevails over evil (Scott). Viewers rated this movie with four stars if the basis for the perfect score is five.
Accordingly, this movie was like the modern “Scarface” which story was also based from illegal drug trade, crime and vengeance during the 1930s gangster era. Although the events in this film were not totally different compared to Scarface, the movie also revolve in the subject of illegal trading, crime and corruption. The only difference is the plot of the story which happens in small suburban black area and most of the major stars are also black. Scarface is a fiction but American Gangsters is based from a true story.
My own personal view for this film is positively higher than four stars because it caught my interest from the beginning of the story up to its end. It does not compel you to watch the full movie but glued you to the screen absorbing everything that you see. It happens in a real drama and every scene was grippingly awesome and interesting. Denzel Washington, Russel Crowe and the director as well as the people who made this film must be applauded for the job well done. Work Cited American Gangster. 2007. Ridley Scott, et al. , November 2, 2007.
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