When Denzel Washington is on his acting game, which is often more times than not, he is mesmerizing on the big screen. His films are always highly anticipated and rarely do they let down. One of his highly-rated films is back and climbing the Hulu charts, sitting at #10.
American Gangster has Denzel Washington playing real-life mobster Frank Lucas. This story tells the life of Lucas from his beginnings in the late 1960s as the chauffeur to Harlem mob boss Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson to Lucas’ rise in the Harlem drug trade.
When Bumpy dies of a heart attack, Lucas sees an opening and enters the heroin drug trade. But instead of going about bringing the drug into the country the way most drug traffickers did, Lucas decided he was going to remove the middleman and import the drug himself.
Frank finds himself in Thailand, where he deals directly with the producers of the drug. To get it back to the States, more specifically Harlem, Frank smuggles the drugs in the coffins of U.S. servicemen whose bodies are being brought back from the Vietnam War.
Frank begins to sell his heroin, which he calls Blue Magic based on its level of purity, for an affordable price. It makes him and the product very popular, which doesn’t sit well with the other city drug traffickers as well as the NYPD.
Detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is a cop who is on the outs from his fellow cops for handing over nearly $1 million he found in a mobster’s car. But Richie’s partner is an outcast and an addict and dies after overdosing on Blue Magic. This gets Richie on the case.
Frank’s empire is growing, and not slowly. He is able to sell his Blue Magic to the many dealers throughout New York, who are now finally seeing the benefit of Frank’s way of doing business. His ability to sell his drug for a high price allows him to also find legitimate businesses to front his operation while also keeping a low profile.
Life is good for Frank. He has many high-profile friends to include legendary boxer, Joe Louis. Frank meets, then marries, Eva, a former Puerto Rican beauty queen.
Richie continues to go after Frank. One night Richie spots Frank at the Fight of the Century (Ali vs. Frazier) at Madison Square Garden. He notes that Frank’s seats are better than the Italian mafia in the audience. Frank’s success, while netting profit for many, angers the Corsican mafia, who put out a hit on Frank and his wife that fails. But to take down Frank, Richie needs to get lucky. Luck falls into Richie’s lap by way of Frank’s cousin Jimmy.
Director Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down) took his time telling the story of Lucas as the film clocks in at a robust 2 hours and 40 minutes. While the film was critically acclaimed and audiences found it riveting, Scott’s $100 million film only brought in a respectable $266.5 at the box office. Not that that’s anything to sneeze over.
Steven Zaillian wrote the script and is the Oscar-nominated screenwriter for the films Awakenings, Gangs of New York, Moneyball, and The Irishman. His biggest claim to fame came with 1993’s Schindler’s List for which he took home an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award.
As for Denzel Washington, as well as his co-star Crowe, they both tackle their respective roles in familiar form. Neither are strangers to the gangster/cop film with Denzel making a living off the backs of such films like Training Day, He Got Game, The Equalizer, 2 Guns, and The Hurricane.
Of course, Denzel’s work does include two Academy Awards (Glory and Training Day), three Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Tony Award. For all his success on the big screen, the small screen, and the stage, Denzel was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.
Denzel Washington is coming off a three-year hiatus with his last film, prior to this year’s The Little Things, was the 2018 film The Equalizer 2 where he reprised his role as Robert McCall, the vigilante with a heart.
Denzel Washington looks to continue his march back to the big screen as up next for the highly acclaimed actor is The Tragedy of Macbeth, as he will take on the role of Lord Macbeth, opposite Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth.
If you’re in the mood for a good gangster true story, head on over to Hulu to see Denzel Washington in American Gangster. Make sure you pop a big bowl of popcorn for this epic.