American GangsterUniversal (Blu-ray)
Armed with ruthless, street-wise tactics and a strict sense of honor, crime boss Frank Lucas rules Harlem's chaotic drug underworld. When outcast cop Richie Roberts sets out to bring down Lucas's multi-million dollar empire, it plunges both men into a legendary confrontation.
Ridley Scott is one of my favorite directors working in Hollywood today, if not my overall favorite. He just has a knack for picking great material and delivering hard edge characters and stunning photography. This one delivers two outstanding performances from Washington and Crowe and gives a disturbing look at the drug market of Harlem during the Vietnam War. The story doesn’t pull punches and delivers great characters and a spectacular story arc. Universal has included both cuts of this film in HD for the Blu-ray release rather than just the original theatrical cut like the previous HD DVD.
They really nailed the photography with this film and you would almost swear it was shot during the time it portrays. While this doesn’t give you that hyper sharp HD look that so many love, it does deliver a more convincing presentation that almost makes you feel like you’re watching a documentary more than a feature film. Contrast levels are a bit weak with raised black levels and colors are on the muted side. Detail wavers in and out but fine object detail is quite good in close ups and tight shots. A great representation of the original theatrical film presentation.
While the visual presentation has a bit of a dated feel, the 5.1 audio mix doesn’t. This is a very engaging mix of crisp dynamics and ominous atmospheric effects. The soundstage has a very believable quality and I love the soundtrack selections from the time period. The low end is very tight and detailed and dialogue is very natural in tone and timbre. A first rate soundtrack and presentation.
Universal has included quite a few new supplements for this Blu-ray release. As I mentioned before you can chose which version of the film you want to watch and both are included in HD this time around. A full picture-in-picture feature is included with interviews and on-set footage of the film. A full feature commentary is included with director Ridley Scott and the film’s writer along with a collection of deleted and alternate scenes. Production features are included along with a couple first look features from various media outlets. Some music videos and a look at the film’s musical selections is also included. A great package from Universal for this one.
Scott delivers another powerhouse film that is solid in every aspect. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next. Highly recommended.