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Oh Ridley Scott, You Jackass.

Another weekend, another new movie release screened for Qualler & the future Mrs. Qualler (Brigitte). This weekend, we went to see the new Ridley Scott-directed epic, American Gangster. While we were entertained by the slick (if a little muddy-looking and overlong by about 15 minutes) entertainment and powerhouse performances by mega-actors Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, we both came away more than a little disturbed and disappointed by an opportunity missed, assumingly by the filmmakers involved.

The story of Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas (played by Washington) is a story ripe for social commentary. It is the story of a successful business man who sells drugs, all while helping to keep his hometown afloat, away from the ills society cast upon them. Meanwhile, NYC cop Richie Roberts (played by Crowe) was the only cop with morals enough to not get involved in taking dirty money from the drug dealers. So, it's like, who's the real criminal here? Eh? Eh? Eh, Ridley Scott?

Well, if this is what Mr. Scott and screenwriter Steven Zallian were going for, they completely and utterly failed. What we got instead of a potentially strong statement about how trying to win the war on drugs like any other kind of war is ultimately a fruitless endeavor was 2 1/2 hours of Ridley Scott's close-up Michael Bay-like cinematography and constant musical score, beating me over the head with the facts that a)This is an "epic" movie and b)This is an EPIC movie. Granted, I did feel like the last 1/2 hour was a good payoff for the 2 hours preceding it, taking what could have been a lame shoot-out style conclusion and thankfully letting Washington and Crowe act a little bit.

And the closing shot was devastating. No, scratch that -- it COULD have been devastating, had the writer and director had either the ambition or the inclination to make it more than just "another gangster movie." Now, maybe I was just looking for something more than what was really being offered here, or maybe I'm just really excited for the final season of HBO's truly epic, and truly brilliant series The Wire. Oh yeah, The Wire's Stringer Bell (played by Idris Elba) was in AmGang, too. Whatta waste.

Of course, if The Wire were on Fox, it would probably end up something like this (NSFW--swearing):

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  1. Anonymous Best Man Dan | 7:34 AM |  

    Wait, since when does the Blogulator borrow its movie reviews from USA Today?

    Though it lags in the middle and is at least 15 minutes too long....
    http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/reviews/2007-11-01-american-gangster_N.htm?csp=34

    ohhhh!

  2. Blogger Brigitte | 12:20 PM |  

    more like when did usa today start borrowing from the blogulator? ooh!

  3. Blogger chris | 2:48 PM |  

    hahaha best youtube find as of late. good work, qualler.

    i'm glad american gangster is as bland as it looked. unfortunately, i think everyone has to just admit defeat and never make another gangster movie. scorsese himself is really the only one that's been successful since goodfellas, so let's just try something different next time...

    can anyone else think of any good gangster movies since 1990 besides the departed?

  4. Blogger chris | 2:48 PM |  

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Blogger qualler | 2:51 PM |  

    Not to continue to beat a dead horse, but obviously The Sopranos did a number on the entire mafia "genre" with its TV series run. Of course, that show was about so much more than gangsters, so I would hesitate to put it in a genre.

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