2 In 1: American Gangster and Inside Man.

The theme for this one would be Denzel Washington… and I can already tell I’ll probably be blasted for my views and opinions in this posting. Denzel, to me, is great. He’s great to watch, and he’s full of intensity. However, he really only plays one of two characters in each movie: good Denzel and bad Denzel (in respect to morals, not acting ability). This article has both. Please don't hurt me too bad.

American Gangster.

I had low expectations going into this movie. I figured it might have some exceptional acting, but overall, I thought it was going to be boring and overly long. Unfortunately, I was right. It’s the 1970s, Vietnam Era, and Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is the new big heroin king. But Detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is looking for somebody to bust, and Frank just happens to end up at the top of the list.

Let’s get the bad out first (assuming I have some good). The first 20 minutes of this movie lost me. I had almost no idea what was going on. Once I got a handle on the situation, I realized I really couldn’t give a rat’s behind about Frank Lucas. His character had no depth or development. He was just boring. Detective Roberts was at least a bit more interesting with the whole family trouble aspect, but even that kind of goes to the wayside. What’s sad is that I’m more of a fan of Denzel than Crowe, and I enjoyed Crowe more than Denzel in this movie.

The Lucas family was vastly underused in the movie, I felt. And how the hell does Ruby Dee (Frank’s mother) get a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination? She’s in probably a grand total of 5 minutes in the 2 and a half hour movie, and speaks probably a total of 3 of that, if even. The Academy must have been incredibly desperate.

Another random note… it felt that every time an f-bomb was dropped in this movie, it was used in the wrong place and felt forced. And it’s sad when you notice that kind of thing. But this brings us to the acting. The acting was pretty good. Denzel was “bad Denzel,” which is always entertaining. Crowe was good, as well.

I don’t know… I just didn’t dig the movie. It was too long, and it seemed as if it wasn’t sure what it was trying to do. When something of importance actually happens, you’re left wondering how they got to that point or how it actually came about. It has the Ridley Scott epic feel, but it fell flat for me. It was a good effort, but not good enough. In other words, I think this movie is a bit overrated and tries too hard.

Feed Me, Seymour!

Inside Man.

This movie, on the other hand, is very entertaining, and stars “good Denzel.” Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) and his crew show up in a bank dressed up as painters, lock the place down, and seemingly try to rob it. Detective Frazier (Denzel) is the cop trying to figure out what’s going on. Meanwhile, Madeline White (Jodie Foster) is hired to get some information taken safely out of the bank that could ruin the owner (Christopher Plummer).

Heist movies are always great, in my opinion. This movie actually helped me get inspired and stay in the mood for my last novel, which is, in essence, a ‘perfect heist’ story. I just really enjoy the idea of incredibly intelligent bad guys who always know what they’re doing and can easily outsmart the good guys at every level.

Denzel’s acting is great, as always. Clive Owen is Clive Owen: deeply monotone and mysterious. But this time he does it with a mask over his face the majority of the time. And both characters have depth. They have purpose and are just round characters. As for Jodie Foster's character, the idea behind her character is cool, but I don’t necessarily think she was needed. The first time I saw the movie, I thought her character was completely pointless. The next time I saw it, I gathered a bit more purpose for the character, but that’s about it. I still think the script could have been written in a way to exclude her completely, even though she gave it a bit of edge. And there were, I admit, one or two scenes that she gave meaning to.

It’s hard to talk about this movie without giving much away. It’s a much more entertaining movie than the previous one, I thought, and the pacing is much better, as well. It has its faults, of course, but I don’t think they’re nearly as big. Great movie all around, though.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

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