Review: “American Gangster,” a Must-See Thriller

“American Gangster,” an action-packed thriller that shows the hard and crucial drug scene of Harlem in the ’70s, is a must-see. This month’s most anticipated film, starring Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, grossed an estimated $46 million during its opening weekend. The list of other big-name actors includes Ruby Dee, Idris Elba, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Armand Assante.

“American Gangster” is based on the life of driver-turned-drug kingpin Frank Lucas. After the death of his mentor, Bumpy Johnson (Clarence Williams III), Lucas takes over his empire but adds a little something extra to the supply. He starts importing heroin from Bangkok and gives the drug its trademark name “Blue Magic.”

Good guy cop Richie Roberts, played by Crowe, has the task of finding who is responsible for this large distribution of Blue Magic.” The movie also gives a little insight into another big-time drug dealer, Leroy “Nicky” Barnes, played by Gooding. Barnes is portrayed as a flashy big shot who wasn’t as sophisticated as Lucas when it came to distributing drugs throughout Harlem.

One of the movie’s flaws is that it doesn’t do a great of a job depicting that the story took place over several years. Audience members must infer what was going on through certain situations in the movie. Other than that, the writers and producers did an excellent job.

Travis Sherman, a sophomore majoring in international business at Howard University, said he really enjoyed the movie. “I like seeing Denzel as the good guy, but I also like seeing him represent bad guys, too,” Sherman said. “It shows his wide range as an actor. I also like I how he really commits to the characters.”

Christian Sherrod, a sophomore biology major at Howard, agrees. “I’m not really into drug movies, but I really enjoyed ‘American Gangster,'” Sherrod said. “It’s amazing to see how Lucas pulled everything off for several years before he was even suspected. The movie shows how you think America is a perfect place, but even army officials will do anything for the almighty dollar.”

The soundtrack for “American Gangster” is a great addition to the movie and includes artists such as Anthony Hamilton, the Staple Singers, Public Enemy and John Lee Hooker. It includes replicas of soulful as well as upbeat tempos that would be heard during the ’70s. Jay-Z, who does not have a song on the soundtrack, released the first single from his new album, “American Gangster,” respectfully entitled “Blue Magic.”

Hamilton makes an appearance in the movie singing the theme song, “Do You Feel Me.” Even though Hamilton is a contemporary singer, he does a good job in performing the song in a way that would remind those who came of age in the seventies of the music they grew up listening to.