Keys to a great movie? Ridley Scott, check. Denzel Washington, check. Russell Crowe, check. Larger than life and wouldn’t believe it if it wasn’t true story, check. Now all of these are thrown into one movie, and what comes out is absolutely fantastic. I do not have a single complaint about this movie and can not recommend to you enough to see it. But it was missing just that little something to make it special and absolutely amazing.
Ridley Scott is usually always solid as a director and occasionally pumps out pristine pieces of work like this film. The movie moves right along never slowing down and never losing our interest. It looks great and everyone turns in top notch performances but everyone involved here has done something better, it’s no one’s best work, and maybe that’s what holds it back in the end.
Denzel is Denzel and that equals a badass as Frank Lucas. The opening scene of the movie sets up Frank Lucas for the rest of the movie; he is not someone to be trifled with and will do anything that he needs to. The rise of Frank Lucas is incredible and amazing, especially in the time and era that he did it in, and Denzel does a perfect job of selling us on the fact that he is capable of doing everything that he does. The story of heroin smuggling and drug selling has been done before, but this definitely at the top of the list for those types of epics.
Russell Crowe plays Richie Roberts, the honest cop that is frowned upon by his peers for being just that, honest. Crowe has more to do here in this movie and isn’t just the intimidating bad ass that Denzel is most of the time. Roberts has an impending custody battle, friendship with gangsters, and the New Jersey Bar Exam to deal with and Crowe plays the part magnificently as he shows us how he deals with juggling it all. Crowe has the deepest role in the film, which really never cuts that deep into the characters lives as there is a lot of good story to tell, so good we can forgive for the lack of character depth.
The supporting cast is great here as well with no one getting any significant screen time over one another. This is pretty much a two horse race with every scene dealing with either Roberts or Lucas, as it should be.
Another minor complaint with the movie is the weak soundtrack. While meaning nothing to most, I think it could have really added something to the movie with some great music choices, ala what Scorsese, Tarantino, and Wes Anderson bring to their movies with their choices.
Any minor gripes aside, this is the movie to see this winter that pretty much anyone can enjoy. If you like any of the big three involved in this movie, and if you don’t you don’t like movies, than you have no reason to not go see this movie.