I'm always impressed by film-making of this caliber. The sheer amount of effort that went into making this film is breathtaking. The locations, the time frame, the costumes, the set pieces, and the pure length of the film is astounding. That said, the film doesn't hold a true rewatchability factor, at least for me. It's so well made that I'll probably check out scenes when it pops up on cable, but the length of the film, nearly 3 hours, will keep me from ever sitting down and watching the whole thing again. Maybe, when I'm old and retired and have the time, but definitely not in the near future.
Denzel Washington, as real life mobster Frank Lucas, gives an amazing performance; from tough to tender, he hits it all. You're actually rooting for this guy, because of where he came from, what he's trying to achieve, the ingenuity and strength that it takes to accomplish it, even though it's all completely illegal. Russell Crowe gives another outstanding performance as the cop, Richie Roberts, who's seemingly the only straight cop in New York City. Everyone on the force, knows him as the cop who turned in a million unmarked dollars for evidence, even his partner hates him for it. But he has a mission in life and the dedication to do it.
The film is about two men coming into their own, heading for a collision that for much of the film they're unaware of. Richie's building a case towards a man hiding at the top of a drug empire. Lucas believes that he's built his protection so well, that nobody will ever touch him. It's interesting how the film contrasts them in their home lives. Lucas is all about family, taking care of his mother, his wife and his brothers; Richie is too dedicated to his job to even realize that he's missing out on his life, his wife's leaving him, with his son, and it's completely secondary. It's very intriguing to watch as it all comes to a head, and what happens when Lucas is finally taken down; I was very surprised by how it all turns out. Though I'm interested in how much of this story is actually true.
Director Ridley Scott has built an epic crime saga; that doesn't work in black and whites, there are a lot of shades of gray here. Just because a man is breaking the law doesn't necessarily mean he's a bad person, and those upholding the laws, are often not in the right. The film is so perfectly made, from top to bottom, that not once was I taken out of the story. The performances by Washington and Crowe are impeccable, along with the rest of the cast. I especially dug Josh Brolin as the dirty detective, Trupo. (This and No Country For Old Men, two amazing performances in 2007, from the big brother in The Goonies.) Writing about how perfectly made this film is makes me want to see it again. My only real complaint is the length, and it mostly deserves it, 10-15 minutes could be cut, but I can't complain. Maybe I'll watch it again sooner than I thought. If you haven't seen it, make sure and do so. - Grade: A