Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe deliver inspired performances as rivals from opposite sides of the law in director Ridley Scott's true-crime epic about '70s era Harlem drug king Frank Lucas (played by Denzel Washington) and the honest cop (played by Russell Crowe) who brings him down. Before smuggling 100 kilos of heroin from Southeast Asia with help from the U.S. military during the Viet Nam war, Frank Lucas usurps his respected crime boss mentor Bumpy Johnson when he drops dead from a heart attack. Upstanding Harlem community figure Frank undercuts his competition's drug prices and builds a cartel that enables him to marry Miss Puerto Rico, and move his family to New York from North Carolina. Although entertaining "American Gangster" fails to rise to the level of movies like "Scarface" or "The Godfather" due, in part, to a lack of vision by cinematographer Harris Savides and Marc Streitenfeld's underachieving musical score.
Rated R, 157 mins. (B+) (Three Stars)
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