YBF Review: American Gangster
"It's not the typical dope boy's life..."-American Gangster, 2007 That one line in this movie literally describes its whole feel. Denzel Washington works it out as Frank Lucas, a North Carolina born crime boss who reinvents the dope boy game in every borough of New York. But that's just the beginning. And I will say, after watching this screening last night, I'm officially convinced T.I.'s whole arrest was a publicity stunt. Way too many coincidental similarities in this movie and with his case. Just jokes...kinda. While Denzy definitely doesn't pull the same Oscar worthy performance in this movie that he did for Training Day, the story itself he represents here is simply incredible. Frank Lucas' real life story is one that should be added in to the black history books as a lesson to teach a young black mind. Not how to be a riduiculously upgraded and non traditional dope boy, but about how to truly (but legally) own a piece of America. After Frank learns everything he can from his crime boss mentor who ran New York in his own right before his sudden death, Frank moves from being his driver and confidant to singlehandedly changing the game and mindset of black folks around him. Lesson: Cut out the middle man and do everything in your business by yourself and for yourself. Whether others can handle your success or not. If black Americans applied this lesson to our own legal and valid business practices, there will be a power shift in society that is sixty years too late. American Gangster is a story about a true hustler who was smart enough to surround himself with only his family in order to gain true ownership and power of an entire city. And it doesn't hurt that he knew being loud and flashy and showcasing his millions would have nothing but a negative effect on his business. Take notes hustlers. Ladies--don't get too excited about the sexiness that is T.I.P. Harris being in this movie, since his role as Frank's nephew Stevie Lucas is actually miniscule. Same with Common who plays Frank's brother Turner Lucas. But both pull it off fabulously...maybe a little too fabulously. Idris Elba is the one to be hot about--dude's sexiness is all up and through parts of the movie and he plays his bad boy role to the tee. RZA surprisingly kills his "Moses Jones" character and is one of the "good guys" this time around. After running the streets in the D-boy game, he flips the script and uses his knowledge of heroin and other street drugs to catch the big boy drug lords like Frank Lucas. I'm sure the Oscar crew is going to be salivating over Russell Crowe's major performance as Detective Richie Roberts. He's a subpoena server who works on the police force during the day, all while going to law school at night. And is trying his damndest to be one of the 25% of NY cops who weren't crooked back in the late 60's early 70's. As for the ladies--Ruby Dee plays Frank's mother and she's still got it. I'm sure the casting director thought actress Lymari Nadal was a good fit as Eva "Miss Puerto Rico" Lucas, but seeing that I could barely understand a word she said throughout the movie, I beg to differ. Melissia Hill does a fabulous job as Redtop, Frank's HBIC handling his packaging of the product at the stash house. Gangster is worth seeing just to take a peek inside the mind of an entreprenurial genius who was beyond his times. And rightly so. The soundtrack of the movie definitely sets the tone and tells you exactly what's going on in the mind of Frank as his empire rises and falls. And the scenes are obvious where Jay got the inspiration for his album, since his whole LP could have been the soundtrack to this movie. It's an incredible journey with the production details only movie buffs can appreciate, like the metaphorical habits and style of Frank Lucas. American Gangster is The Sopranos meets ATL meets The Shield...with a more intricate and complicated plot that makes you second guess the meaning of right and wrong. And I loved it. YBF Rating: A- Catch American Gangster at theaters starting Friday, November 2nd. This review is strictly the opinon of YBF. Take it for what it is.