Film: American Gangster  » Movies  »
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  • After watching the special features on the DVD it is all to clear why this film was not as amazing as it rightfully should have been, and that is simply because Director Ridley Scott rushed
  • Everytime I watch the film I think of Maxwell Q

    • by James Smith

      all reviews
      American Gangster…. a good movie. Unfortunatley thats all it is, and all it ever will be. In the Pantheon of Great Gangster Films, this should have been its most recent entry. Instead it falls into the Pantheon of Films that Need A Little More Work. I was so let down when I saw this film, I almost cast off Ridley Scott and his best friend Russell Crowe, and i ran headlong back to the great gangster films, like “GoodFellas” and “The Godfather”, “Casino” and “The Departed”.

      After watching the special features on the DVD it is all to clear why this film was not as amazing as it rightfully should have been, and that is simply because Director Ridley Scott rushed. He rushed through pre-production, he rushed through filming, and he rushed through post-production. What Ridley does is he likes to work really quick, so instead of what might have been a 24-30 week film shoot on Black Hawk Down he did it in 16. His formula unchanged in spirit but very high on confidence, he somehow convinced himself that he could shoot a film at 60-80 set-ups a day. A set-up is when you place a

      camera and shoot.

      So when you place the camera somewhere else and shoot you have changed set-ups. The average for films is about 10-15-maybe 20 set-ups a day, and sometimes they’ll need to go for anywhere from 30 to 70 set-ups in a day. Now thats fine when you do it once in a while, or when you work on a television show and you just have to get it done. But when you are Ridley Scott, director of “Gladiator”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Alien”, “Matchstick Men”, and many other great films, if you say you need this, this, and this the film company is gonna listen. Not only was it too many set-ups but also too many location changes in a day.

      There were over 120-160 locations used in this film and all had to be taken back to the late 70’s and 80’s. This aspect of the production is possibly the only highpoint besides the acting and overall brilliant casting. In casting the only mistake was rapper T. I. , whereas Common, another rapper, performed wonderfully alongside veteran actors like Chiwitel Ejifor and Denzel Washington, T.

      I. looks so out of place and gives a performance so wretched ...

      • I was glad when he took a shotgun to the chest just to get him off the screen. And finally we come to the music, oh boy…. its pretty bad. Ridley usually works with the likes of veteran composer Hans Zimmer or Harry Greggson-Williams, but neither were available apparently and so he went with Marc Streitenfield….

        For God’s sake why Ridley? Why couldn’t you just delay the film for a few months until one of them got available? Not only does Marc apparently fail to understand what makes a “gangster” score like “GoodFellas” or “The Departed” amazing but he cant even create a more “ordinary/operactic” score such as “The Godfather”. So now lets forget that this is just a regular score that doesnt really acknowledge the subject matter or the story and look at some of the themes. The music that most often appears behind Denzel Washington’s “Frank Lucas”, is a half irish, half something piece of music that really does not fit into this film, and the reason why is simple. Frank Lucas is Black. African-American.

        He lives in Harlem in New York City and is from the deep south. Where does the composer grab an irish

        sounding theme from? Everytime I watch the film I think of Maxwell Q. Klinger in M*A*S*H when he claims to be Walter “Radar” O’Reilly. For those of you who have never seen the show Klinger is an olive skinned Lebanese from Toledo, Ohio. “Radar” is pale white and of irish descent from Uttomwa, Iowa.

        When questioned that he doesn’t look Irish Klinger replies, “Oh Black Irish, sir. Remeber the Spanish Armada?” I guess Marc Streitenfield didn’t bother to read the script or watch the footage he was scoring and notice that Denzel Washington was in the movie. My final complaint is the ending. While true to the real life story the execution on screen falls flat of the mark. The moral of the film seems to be, if you want to be a gangster, go for it, and if you get in trouble just snitch on everyone and you’ll become bestest buddies with the guy who slapped on your handcuffs and sent you to the big house.

        So if you want a great Denzel performance and pretty good production design, here you go, but if you want a truly great gangster movie keep looking, you’ll find something better than this.

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    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in March, 2011. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 1114031443860731/k2311a0314/3.14.11
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