James Gandolfini was offered the role of Detective Trupo, but turned it down. (iMDB.com)
Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is a family man. He goes to church every Sunday with his mother, believes in hard work, and honesty. He is also one of Manhattans biggest drug lords; directly importing the purest of drugs and selling it cheaper than the competition.
I had some pretty high hopes going into the film. Maybe that is why I was not as pleased when I walked out at the end. First off, American Gangster is unnecessarily long. There appears to be too many things going on. There is the story of Frank Lucas and his rise to power along side the story of Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe), one of the few good cops in the city who is struggling with his own personal problems. Eventually, their two paths cross and things finally begin to resolve. The film progressed very slowly; showing bits and pieces of each story as they unfolded.
The acting of Washington and Crowe was as expected. I enjoyed watching their characters evolve throughout the film. Ridley Scott did a good job of showing the double life of Washington and then blending it all together before it was over. On one side, you have the nice, gentle family man who takes care of his mother. On the other, there is the beast who does not take no for an answer and will kill in cold blood. Crowe was a little different, showing how good people live in an environment surrounded by bad people.
American Gangster is not your average mobster movie with mob bosses, hits, and other associations with the group. Instead, it shows more of a rise to power story. At parts, it can be very slow going, but by the end, you are not left wondering about anything. Scott does a good job of tell the story of Frank Lucas, from beginning to end. American Gangster is worth checking out although do not go in expecting anything amazing or groundbreaking.