Monday, January 21, 2008

American Gangster (2007)

American Gangster. Film Review. Based on what i've seen through this film, in 1960s, the U.S of A was down in its gutter. Vietnam was a losing cause, and the way i see it, it still worse than Iraq. Meanwhile, at its own shore, drugs were at their busiest time taking their tolls left and right. And, a reminiscence to my own country's condition now, forty years afterward - which suggest that we still had a long road ahead to catch up -, the law department was plagued with corruption that if you happened to be one that 'did the right thing', you'd be the only one, you had no friends in department, people talk behind your back, your wife left you, and you'd virtually had no career up ahead.

Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) has lived and served under Bumpy Johson, a black man whose claw was deep into Harlem, NY for fifteen years. When Bumpy dies, Frank step up the plate, and by strictly obeying rules he made and learnt from Bumpy, he did what the Italian mafia couldn't do in 100 years, he brought up a nearly pure heroin, the highest quality in the market with reduced price, thus virtually eliminating his competitors, and brought him a wealth that even his late boss, Bumpy could only dream of. The only mistake he made was when he violates his own rule, a violation that proved the trueness of an ancient adage that 'behind every fall of a man, is a woman'. On the opposite of the coin, Richie Roberts (the ever versatile Russell Crowe) is a New Jersey Police Dept. probably the only honest cop in the department. He found a million dollars in cash, unmarked, in a trunk of a car belong to a Mafia bookie. But instead of using it for his own merit, he handed the money to the Departement, every dollar. This renowned him, but as i've said in the earlier paragraph, he had no friends, people talked behind him back, his wife left him, and he had virtually no career up ahead all that because he did the right thing. Until one day, that is, when his renowned reputation land him a job to lead a special anti-drug unit. With this unit, that consists of men of his choice, Richie's path and Frank's would eventually collide. Mixed in the play was Detective Trupo (Josh Brolin) of a NY Special Investigation Unit, a totally corrupt detective who ask for a monthly stipend from every mafia, redistribute the confiscated drug in a much lesser quality, and everything imaginable, right or wrong (mostly wrong) to made him even more wealthy.

The film kept remind me of Heat. In Heat, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were for a greater part of the film weren't on a same scene until the famous coffee shop scene that still rob my heart-beat even now. In this film, the first scene where Russel Crowe and Denzel Washington first appear together on a single scene is also one of the most breath-taking moment in this film. I would like to call the scene as an "Amazing Grace" scene that should the film ended in that scene, i would love it even more than i'm already is. I loved the film by the way, one of the best film in 2007, but not nearly at the top. Further, since his appearance in No Country for Old Men (still my best film in 2007), i've been keeping an eye on Josh Brolin. He had the quality that reminds me to Jeff Bridges, an actor that time and again i would mentioned as the most underrated working actors which is of course, a good thing. Denzel Washington is at his usual game, nothing much to expect from him, as well as Russell Crowe. Playing a socially inept honest cop doesn't require much from him. But of course, the greater portion of this film lies on Denzel Washington's shoulder. And he doesn't disappoint. Much.

I'd like to think that the true stars of this film is Josh Brolin. I was disturbed with the film during the Thanksgiving scenes. Frank Lucas is a family man, he loves his family, he loves being together in a single dining table during Thanksgiving. But, the fact remains that he fed his family with drug money. A various scenes show that lots and lots of family loses one (or all) of its member and its sanity with drugs. All juxtaposed with a scene where Frank Lucas had his lavish thanksgiving dinner. I feel that i should hate Frank, all with his indifference to lives of others aside from that of his own family. However, the one i really hate the most in this film was the crooked detective character represented by Josh Brolin. Disturbing, because really, all he does is took the money from the bad guy. He was never shown taking an innocent human live during the film. Yet, ironically, his death and not Frank's is one that i'm really looking forward to. If i hadn't known any better, Josh Brolin is the scene-stealer in this film.

The film ran long, almost three hours but the story was greatly told that three hours just flies. However, there's this teenager beside me who at the last third of the film kept turning on his handphone to see the time. Ah, probably he has a curfew and has to get home before midnight.

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