'American Gangster': An American Critique
The expansive new mob drama American Gangster stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Fresh Air's film critic says it's a whopping overdose of perverse '70s nostalgia, a panoramic portrait of a nation disintegrating from moral rot.
But the charismatic real-life monster who inspired the film — a druglord who exults in his scams and brags about his murders — has become so controlled, and domesticated, that even with Washington's star power, he doesn't carry the movie. Crowe, credible as an obsessed detective, helps somewhat. But ultimately the movie feels like Scarface drained of blood, at arm's length from the culture that spawned it.
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