American Gangster Movie Analysis

The movie I watched for the gangster film critique was American Gangster, which was released in 2007 and directed by Ridley Scott.

Some of the major actors that were casted as the two main characters in this film were Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Denzel Washington plays main character Frank Lucas, who is an African American man who becomes one of the biggest heroine traffickers in New York. Frank seeks a better life for him and his family, so he becomes heavily involved with the drug game.

Russell Crowe’s character, a New Jersey detective that seems to be the only honest cop in the field (the film points out several times that he turned in $1 million when he easily could’ve kept it for himself), aims to end the drug trafficking if it’s the last thing he does.

Based on this film I do understand why people would choose a life of crime when making an honest living just doesn’t quite pay the bills as well as being a criminal.

There is a lot of risk involved when being affiliated with a life of crime, but some people feel that in order to take care of themselves and the ones they love they must turn to the route that offers the high-risk high reward, rather than choosing the low risk low reward option.

The central character in the film is easy to identify because most of the events that go on in the movie revolve around Frank and how the drug selling business ruins his and his family’s lives.

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For me, what makes Frank’s so relatable is even though he wears this thick coat of skin and acts like he has little emotion, at the end of the day he still looks out for his family as the film hints that he cares for his family several times. His nephew Stevie Lucas has an incredible pitching arm, so Frank uses his pristine status to get Stevie a meeting with the New York Yankees to get on the team. Once he buys his huge mansion, he has his mother’s old dresser re-made from his memory just to show her how much he loves her.

The film maker is trying to tell his audience that even though the life of crime seems to be great because of all the money you can make, eventually it will catch up to you and lead to time in prison which will get you in an even lower place than you ever were. The life of a gangster in American society could seem very enjoyable on the surface, but once you’re deep in it, it can be very difficult to get out and it usually leads to prison time.

Mitchell’s argument about social Darwinism, which is the belief in “survival of the fittest” connects with the ideas and a character within this film. For example, when Frank is at a diner with his family/ colleagues, he excuses himself for a moment to go shoot someone in cold-blood in the streets of New York. Then when Frank was having a house-party, his brother’s driver shot an off-duty cop in the leg for being touchy with his girlfriend, so Frank’s reactions was to bash his head several times with the cover of a piano in front of all his party guests, and then he aggressively kicked everyone out of his house. Frank committed these actions because he wanted to send a message to everyone that he or his business should not be taken for granted and that anyone who tried to disrespect him was going to pay for it. This was his way of showing that he is willing to do whatever he feels is necessary in order to survive in this lifestyle of his.

My overall rating of this film was 4 out of 5 stars because I felt that this movie showed very accurate examples of what life was like for an American gangster in the mid-to-late 20th century. What I really enjoyed about it was that it portrayed how corrupt the police system was by how cops and detectives received money from drug traffickers in return for money. The only reason this film did not receive 5 out of 5 stars from me is because after watching it I wouldn’t call it one of my favorite movies, but I would still say that it is a very well-made film.

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