Tonight we’re discussing the Denzel Washington movie, American Gangster.
Review by By Roger Ebert
At the Sun Times
Apart from the detail that he was a heroin dealer, Frank Lucas’ career would be an ideal case study for a business school. “American Gangster” tells his success story. Inheriting a crime empire from his famous boss Bumpy Johnson, he cornered the New York drug trade with admirable capitalist strategies. He personally flew to Southeast Asia to buy his product directly from the suppliers, used an ingenious importing scheme to get it into the United States, and sold it at higher purity and lower cost than anyone else was able to. At the end, he was worth more than $150 million, and got a reduced sentence by cutting a deal to expose three-quarters of the NYPD narcotics officers as corrupt. And he always took his mom to church on Sunday.
Lucas is played by Denzel Washington in another one of those performances where he is affable and smooth on the outside, yet ruthless enough to set an enemy on fire. Here’s a detail: As the man goes up in flames, Frank shoots him to put him out of his agony. Now that’s merciful. His stubborn antagonist in the picture is a police detective named Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe), who gets a very bad reputation in the department. How does he do that? By finding $1 million in drug money — and turning it in. What the hell kind of a thing is that to do, when the usual practice would be to share it with the boys?
With all the Star Wars Talk going on as of late I am seeing a resurgence of the bashing that follows the prequel trilogy, and for the record – yes they were bad, yes that had flaws, and yes they cursed us with the knowledge that Jar-Jar Binks is now part of our Star Wars collective consciousness – BUT IT IS STILL STAR WARS!!!
In the third and final part of this Series I tackle Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Production budget: $113 million
Domestic Total Gross: $380,270,577
Domestic Lifetime Gross: $380,270,577
Flaws: Obi WTF Kenobi, Padme “Pregnancy makes me a sniveling little biatch” Amadala, Worst Jedi Duel ever, A completly Non-existant duel between Anakin and Mace Windu, an impotent Yoda, and the worst movie line of all time.
Strengths: To my surprise an excellent performance turned in by Hayden Christiansen as Anakin Skywalker, Ian McDermid as Emperor Palepatine, and Epic battle between Anakin and Obi Wan, Lack of droid memories explained, Lord Vader rises.
In my opinion this movie absolutely implodes in terms of performances. Ewan McGregor, who has conditioned us to expect a wonderful performance just absolutely phones it in in this movie. I CAN NOT STAND this depiction of Obi Wan Kenobi. “Wait a minute, how did this happen? We’re smarter than this!” That these words escaped Kenobi’s lips is something I’ll never be able to forgive Lucas for. I can’t blame Ewan McGregor for the for the lines he was given, but overall I think Kenobi should have been a different character in this film. He gets taken out by Dooku with a flick of the wrist, carried out of danger on Anakin’s shoulders, and repeatedly defers to Anakin as being a greater Jedi than he is. So when he has to face Anakin and come to terms with his betrayal, well I’ll get to that in a bit.