The Bottom Line
- A well-crafted movie with star turns by Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe
- An interesting tale that was inspired by a true story
- An entertaining movie with high production values
- The film has some heavy-handed scenes
- Sometimes the movie feels derivative of earlier films
- The storytelling style is an awkward mix of docudrama and epic
- Two-disc DVD set containing extended and theatrical versions of crime drama American Gangster (2007)
- Film stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe and was directed by Ridley Scott
- Movie was nominated for two Oscars, including Ruby Dee for Best Supporting Actress
- DVD provides audio commentary by director and screenwriter for theatrical version
- Two deleted scenes (total runtime = 3 minutes 45 seconds), one of which is an alternate opening
- A five-part making-of documentary (total runtime = 1 hour 18 minutes)
- Three behind-the-scenes featurettes (total runtime = 25 minutes)
- Feature film runtime: theatrical version — 2 hours 37 minutes, extended version — 2 hours 56 minutes
- MPAA rating: R for violence, pervasive drug content and language, nudity and sexuality (Extended version is unrated.)
- DVD release date: February 19, 2008
Guide Review - American Gangster DVD Review
Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe turn in star performances in American Gangster, an entertaining movie inspired by a true story. Washington portrays Frank Lucas, a real-life Harlem heroin kingpin for about eight years beginning in 1968. A shrewd, coldblooded businessman, Lucas brings his product from Southeast Asia on US military planes, markets it under the name Blue Magic and beats the competition on price and quality. He marries a Puerto Rican beauty queen, brings his whole family into his enterprise and takes his mom to church on Sunday. Crowe plays Richie Roberts, the real-life New Jersey policeman who brought Lucas down.
The movie maintains an extremely high level of craft throughout, but there are some heavy-handed scenes. The filmmakers seemingly couldn't decide whether it should be a gritty docudrama or an epic saga. The result is a good, but not great movie.
On DVD, the American Gangster Two-Disc Extended Edition provides two versions of the feature film: one is the theatrical version, while the other contains 18 minutes of additional footage (including an alternate ending). For the theatrical version, there is an audio commentary track with director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Steve Zaillian.
The second disc of the DVD set contains an hour and 47 minutes of extras. There's a 78-minute making-of documentary that gives you a chance to see the real-life Frank Lucas and the real-life Richie Roberts. Also, there are three behind-the-scenes featurettes with a total runtime of 25 minutes. Finally, there are two deleted scenes that run about four minutes, and one of these is an alternate opening.
If in a couple of scenes it had trusted its audience more, this could have been a great movie. But it is a very good one, and the artistic quality of the feature film along with the special features make the two-disc DVD set worth purchasing.