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American Gangster Review

Movies.com Critics

4.0

Dave White Profile

… totally entertains you, Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0
    76

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    This is an engrossing story, told smoothly and well, and Russell Crowe's contribution is enormous.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Meticulous and detailed, a drug-world epic that holds you from moment to moment, immersing you in the intricate and sleazy logistics of crime. Yet the movie isn't quite enthralling; it's more like the ghost version of a '70s classic.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    In the end, though, the success of American Gangster doesn't flow from the originality of its ideas, or its bid for epic status, as much as from its craftsmanship and confident professionalism. It's a great big gangster film, and a good one.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    It's workmanlike and engrossing, but what sticks in the mind are Frank and Richie, not what anybody does.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The movie, based on a true story, takes surprising twists and turns right up to its chilling ending and is probably the best gangster crime drama of the year.

    Read Full Review

  • See all American Gangster reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Violent, drug-fueled drama isn't for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this based-on-a-true story drama about a brutal 1970s gangster isn't for kids. He commits extremely violent acts, which are depicted explicitly (often with guns) and accompanied by blood, wounds, and groaning. And since the plot focuses on heroin smuggling and dealing, there are many shots of junkies and drug use (including needles in arms, cocaine being snorted, and more). Sexual content includes scenes with prostitutes, kissing, bare breasts, and cleavage, and there's plenty of language, including almost 100 uses of "f--k."

  • Families can talk about whether the movie glamorizes criminal behavior. How is Frank both villainous and attractive? How does the film compare and contrast him to Richie, who's upright on the job but not a good husband? Families can also discuss the fact that the movie is based on a true story. How accurate do you think it is? Why do filmmakers sometimes tweak the facts when they're making biopics or movies based on actual events?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Gangsters are cruel, cocky, and greedy; cops are earnest and honest to a fault. Their run-ins result in violence and, eventually, collaboration.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Several scenes show shooting, fighting, and tense stand-offs between men wielding large guns. An early scene shows the funeral of gangster's mentor, followed by vows of aggression against rivals. Clips of the Vietnam War appear on background TVs. Cops raid drug locations, with guns drawn and used. A man is thrown down the stairs, with bloody results. Following a shooting, there's blood on the floor and walls. Frank coldly shoots a man on the street (hole in head visible). Flashback shows Frank shooting someone while saying he's a "gentleman." Frank beats a man at a party in his home, then blows up over the blood on his white carpet. Skeet shooting; brief shots of a boxing match.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Prostitutes stroll New York streets. Dancers in a Bangkok bar show cleavage and sexy behavior. Women's naked breasts are visible as they work to process drugs. Brief, rowdy sex scene in a kitchen; a couple of scenes show kissing (Richie with a stewardess). Men appear in bars and clubs with multiple girlfriends and sex workers who show cleavage in tight outfits. Frank and Eva kiss passionately, though the act is mostly covered up by her long hair. Frank is massaged by a woman naked from the waist up.

  • language false5

    Language: Much profanity, including nearly 100 uses of "f--k" (some with "mother"), as well as plenty of uses of "s--t," "ass," "damn," and "hell." Also several uses of the "N" word -- sometimes between friends, other times used in a derogatory way.

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: Coca-Cola, Ford Mustang.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Pervasive drugs (opium, heroin, pills, marijuana, cocaine) and drinking. Nixon appears on TV, denouncing "drug abuse." Drinking in bars (some in Southeast Asia, where the atmosphere is decidedly seedy), at parties, on the streets, and in hotel rooms. Frequent cigarette and cigar smoking (reflecting the 1970s setting). Images of heroin transportation (by sacks and bricks), production, and use; needles shown on tables and in arms (a bloody needle in one shot); cocaine and heroin snorting.

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