“American Gangster,” Ridley Scott’s real-life prestige pic about the greatest drug lord in Harlem’s history, opens today
in theaters nationwide. The film depicts 1960s Harlem as a
drug-infested, poverty-stricken New York borough where whites were
afraid to go, which come to think of it, doesn’t sound all that
different from the Harlem of today.
Denzel Washington stars as Frank Lucas, the drug kingpin and heroin who
smuggles cocaine into the country by hiding it in the coffins of dead
American soldiers returning from Vietnam, and Russell Crowe plays
opposite him as detective Richie Roberts, the officer who tries to
bring Lucas down. In true originality, the black guy is the criminal
and the white guy is the hero.
Washington is reprising his role as villain for the first time since he won
a Best Actor Oscar for portraying a corrupt cop in 2002’s “Training
Day.” Russell has received three Best Actor nominations, been in five
films nominated for Best Picture, and continues to solidify himself as
arguably the best actor going today. He already starred in “3:10 to
Yuma” this year, a superb remake of a 1957 Western. Of course, if he
stopped assaulting hotel employees with phones, maybe he’d get even more respect.