22 Oct 2011

Angels and Gangsters

So after a day of chainsawing and trying to kill dogs it's time to write. 
American Gangsters (2007)
American Gangster stars  Denzil Washington and Russell Crowe. It also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor (that's pronounced "Chew-it-tell Edge-oh-for") who I recently watched in the visceral TV thriller  The Shadow Line.  I think Mr. Chiwetel an excellent actor and he is a draw card for me in choosing whether to watch a film. 

  The movie is based on a true story about Frank Lucas (Washington) who controls a gang in Harlem, and Richie Roberts (Crowe) an ambitious, yet honest New york cop in 1960s New York.  

Frank has a cousin who owns a bar in Bangkok. Through him Frank arranges with the Vietnamese gangs to buy  Heroin directly from the opium growers, then import the drugs to his organisation. This cuts out the various middle men and the Mafia. Frank then imports the Heroin into the states using army transports. 

Richie is a vice cop struggling  against police corruption, and trying to convince his superiors that a black man is capable of this level of organised crime. 

It is an interesting story, more so for being based on truth. The real Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts assisted with the films production. It makes for an interesting period piece about the transformation of the drug trade in America and the decline of the Mafias dominance in organised crime. The performances are what you expect from Crowe and Washington, solid and believable, if a little old hat.

me at 142 minutes.
American Gangsters is a very long movie however. The pacing of the narrative does it no favours after the second hour, especially considering that there is another 37 minutes to go. 

Maybe it could have ended with the arrest of Frank Lucas, but the story continues with Lucas helping the police with investigations into police corruption. 

Long movies are not necessarily bad, but you need good pacing and structure to hold the audiences attention. American Gangster has this to a point, but loses it completely after the arrest of Lucas and the movie starts to drag terribly.

The length detracts from the movie a lot, and we were all shifting in our seats after a while. 

I give it six sleepy monkeys.

1 comment:

  1. In my opinion, it was a bit of an also-ran as far as movies go. Denzil played Denzil; Russell played Russell; Scott showed that he know longer remembers how to edit a movie.