American Gangster Reviews

  • American Gangster is meticulous and detailed, a drug-world epic that holds you from moment to moment, immersing you in the intricate and sleazy logistics of crime.

    Owen Gleiberman — Entertainment Weekly

  • Greatness hovers just outside American Gangster, knocking, angling to be let in.

    Manohla Dargis — New York Times

  • Here's a startlingly original true-life story told in an oddly unoriginal way. And that attempt at instant classic status in the title doesn't quite convince. It's got no more dark grandeur than American Idol.

    Peter Bradshaw — Guardian [UK]

  • The movie, based on a true story, takes surprising twists and turns right up to its chilling ending and is probably the best gangster crime drama of the year.

    Claudia Puig — USA Today

  • It has the aspirations of an epic of crime and punishment, a superb feel for time and milieu, and an almost subliminal feel for myth.

    Stephen Hunter — Washington Post

  • The entire movie is caught between being a work of seriousness and a work of absurdity.

    Wesley Morris — Boston Globe

  • Ambitious as American Gangster is, it's well suited to Denzel Washington's particular star quality.

    J. Hoberman — Village Voice

  • This is Washington's movie as much as it is Lucas' story, and he is as entertainingly evil here as in his Oscar-winning performance as a bad cop in Training Day.

    Jack Mathews — New York Daily News

  • The better it gets -- and the drama grows in power over its quasi-epic course of 157 minutes -- the more it brings to mind the truly great gangster films of American movie history.

    Joe Morgenstern — Wall Street Journal

  • It's a much better film than nine-tenths of what's out there on any given Friday, and if you're a fan of steak-and-potatoes crime drama, I highly recommend it.

    Amy Biancolli — Houston Chronicle

  • Ridley Scott packs the film with period detail and vivid, violent energy reminiscent of high-grade Scorsese, then mixes in a Lumet-like, keenly observed outrage at systemic corruption.

    Chris Vognar — Dallas Morning News

  • For talent, Scott couldn't start much purer. Washington and Crowe are consummate craftsmen who burrow deep into their characters.

    Lisa Kennedy — Denver Post

  • Their ambition is out there. But for all the sprawl, American Gangster feels secondhand. It's like Scarface drained of blood, at arm's length from the culture that spawned it.

    David Edelstein — New York Magazine

  • It's Super Fly -- which also had a drug-dealer hero -- without the cartoon cruddiness and the put-on violence and with an enormous increase of range and detail.

    David Denby — New Yorker

  • This is an engrossing story, told smoothly and well, and Russell Crowe's contribution is enormous.

    Roger Ebert — Chicago Sun-Times

  • While you may wish the superlatively talented cast of American Gangster had a classic to show for their efforts, a good modern gangster film is its own reward.

    Michael Phillips — Chicago Tribune

  • Both he [Washington] and Ruby Dee, as his mother, give Oscar-caliber performances.

    Carrie Rickey — Philadelphia Inquirer

  • A strikingly photogenic but lethargic cops and crimelords yarn, it gives us a number of formidable talents laboring on a story that never develops the headlong momentum it needs. It's a brooding, serious character study impersonating a crime thriller.

    Colin Covert — Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • Every bit as generic as its title, American Gangster is a Frankenstein creature of a film, put together from the parts of other famous gangster flicks yet lacking in both the fury and wild-eyed vision the best of the genre have to offer.

    Tom Long — Detroit News

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