'Gangster' Misfires

Glibness drains power from the true tale of a Harlem criminal genius

Review C+

November 02, 2007|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

American Gangster, the story of real-life 1960s Harlem super-criminal Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), wants to be The Godfather, Serpico and that blaxploitation cult classic, Across 110th Street, wrapped into one Superfly chinchilla coat.

It plays like a deluxe network-TV miniseries edited to be seen in a single sitting, but with all the nudity, profanity and gore the networks would cut out. The human drama takes a back seat to rise-and-fall criminal milestones that occur every 15 minutes.

American Gangster (Universal) Starring Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe. Directed by Ridley Scott. Rated R. Time 157 minutes.


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