Denzel Washington portrays wealthy drug dealer in ‘American Gangster’

Paige Lockard

Physical abuse, broken romance and action out the wazoo make “American Gangster” worth sitting through. It lasted more than two hours but surprisingly kept me awake and well aware of the pain I was viewing.

Based off a true story, the movie takes place in New York around the 1970s. Sickly, rich drug dealer Frank Lucas, played by one of my favorite actors, Denzel Washington, develops “Blue Magic,” almost 100 percent pure cocaine that he smuggled into the country. With his money, Lucas buys his elderly mother a house and meets his wife, all while literally destroying lives around him.

An equally important character in this film is Richie Roberts, played by another credible actor, Russell Crowe. Roberts is a completely devoted cop who searches for and eventually tears down Lucas. Both Lucas and Roberts have their own storyline throughout the movie, and the film cuts back and forth between the plot development of each character.

I could easily describe the gruesomeness of some of the scenes, but after viewing one heroin needle enter a… I can’t even talk about it. There were many, perhaps too many, scenes with this footage. According to those who were able to keep their eyes open, each scene was equally disturbing and uncomfortable.

I don’t blame director Ridley Scott for wanting to show the disgusting truths of heroin injections, because it was a significant problem in the ’70s. It still is a big problem, as we should be aware. I just couldn’t help covering my eyes and humming tunes like a child curled up in the fetal position avoiding an awful monster.

This video juggles values, as Lucas is devoted to his family even as he shoots cops and lies about his life, is in love with his wife yet on their wedding day burns the coat she gave him and sits through a church service but leaves to get arrested for providing cheap, effective drugs. Roberts, on the other side of the spectrum, is going through a divorce, trying to see his child, sleeping with more than a handful of broads and trying to figure out who to arrest in the conflict. His life is more than a little complicated, but finding Lucas ends up being a good thing for him.

Unexpected nudity, needles and violence, including an exploding head courtesy of Lucas, make this movie interesting and often disturbing to sit through. I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen this to take the challenge. Try to sit through “American Gangster” without shutting your eyes or turning away.

I dare you.