25 December 2007

American Gangster

American Gangster is definitely not a Christmas movie but worth the time needed to watch it!

The plot is an interesting one, particularly for those that are not familiar with the African-American mobsters of the 1960s and 1970s. This is a time when political correctness had not really kicked in and these gangsters were black gangsters. However, based on a true story, and as with most films it probably has a few dramatic embellishments, yet it does convey a message. The message might not always be the one we hope for as the film does provide an element of glamour to the bad guy. So, perhaps some impressionable minds might turn to crime. But generally the film is about the corruption driven by greed and the scourge of drugs.

It really does plot good against evil. The good guy being Ritchie Roberts, played by Russell Crowe, against the cold, calculating and deadly evil Frank Lucas, played by Denzel Washington. With the ultimate outcome never in doubt for any history buff familiar with the story, it is still possible to feel empathy for the bad guy even when you do not want to or know that it is misplaced. The reality is that Frank Lucas may in fact be a self-made man but he was so on the misery and suffering of those people that consumed his product, heroin.

But, there is more to this film in that it highlights the absolute brazen nature of the crimes being committed alongside the creativity and genius being employed to pull them off. Frank Lucas created a business model that cut out the middle man in the supply and distribution routes increasing profits. Yet, it was the importing of the heroin in the coffins of US soldiers being repatriated from Vietnam. Uncle Sam may not have realized it at the time but is was the middle man in a transportation sense from the Southeast Asian based-supplier to the chop factories in the US.

The film highlights the almost wild west nature of the late 60s and early 70s where lawlessness abounds with police on the take and criminals seeking celebrity and what's more getting it.

Crime may pay over the short term but the long term is never so secure.

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