Friday, March 07, 2008

Movie Review - American gangster

Of all the contemporary gangster movies that I have seen in the recent times, this movie stands apart and screams - "Pick me"and to me the interesting and captivating moments was about the emphasis of "Re-branding" dope and that leads to the drug kingpin's rise and fall taps a vein of toxic excess.

I have always like Denzel Washington and then it was one of the reasons why I visit his movies without much worry. Always can expect good stuff. Anyway, this movie is an interesting parallel about how much the 60's, 70's and 80's world thought that the Italian mafia were the ones who indulged excessively in drug peddling. Apparently, this is a true life incident where it puts forward to the world how much corrupt the military were those years (Oh yea, America can be corrupt too!), that they peddled in dope from Vietnam through the military carriers into the US and then Lukas (DW), takes control. His cool demeanor and low profile just ensures that he is never noticed by anyone. It is quite evident how the Attorney dismisses Russle crowe's (a Cop), allegation and evidences as baseless by saying - "No nigger has accomplished what the American Mafia hasn't in a hundred years! ". I love that line for some reason. Just sums up how much people, administrators, cops and everyone else who matters thought when it came to drug peddling.

In American Gangster Denzel captivates and hold the screen. He’s both charming and disarmingly deadly at the same time. I generally love gangster films but hate the over glorification of the lifestyle. Never once in AG did I feel American Gangster glorified Denzel’s Frank Lucas.

Lucas is cold and calculating, but exudes a quiet charisma. He’s smart enough to build his empire while avoiding the trappings of the Gangster lifestyle. Yes he has the fabulous houses, but he dresses in drab, suits to blend into the crowds. He’s not like other Gangsters of the period like Gooding Jr., a showboating, loud dresser who carries around copies of his press clippings. In one scene Lucas sees one of his cousins wearing a loud outfit and tells him to take it saying “Why are you wearing a suit that screams arrest me.” He says this in such a way that’s part concerned relative with a hint of something else behind his eyes.

"You understand? You're too loud, you're making too much noise. Listen to me, the loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room. "

Mob movies have long equated organized crime with supply-and- demand capitalism, but "American Gangster" may be the first underworld epic in which a drug kingpin lectures a subordinate about the significance of "brand names" and "trademark infringement" in the heroin trade. In a scene, Frank Lucas, the crime lord of Harlem, warns low-level mobster Cuba Gooding Jr. to stop selling inferior smack under the Lucas-established "Blue Magic" brand. For the junkie consumer, Lucas asserts, Blue Magic promises a certain level of quality -- like Pepsi. :-]

Lucas' upward mobility, dishonestly acquired wealth and love of family -- he imports the whole clan from North Carolina -- are contrasted with the divorced Russell Crowe' crummy living conditions and screwed-up approach to relationships. (Scenes with his ex-wife are extraneous and help pad the movie to an unnecessary 157 minutes.) Occasionally, the director presents parallel events in the men's worlds, as when he cuts from a lavish Lucas Thanksgiving dinner -- staged to suggest the famous Norman Rockwell painting -- to a shot of Russell Crowe at home alone, sprinkling crushed potato chips onto his processed turkey meat sandwich !

I surely don't want to say more and reveal plot here for the prospective movie watcher. To me this has been one of the best entertainers. I would give a thumbs up and a 9 on 10 rating. So go on and treat yourself with this movie.

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