I’m hearing good things from a friend in the know about American Gangster, director Ridley Scott’s latest effort — a ’70s-set period piece about a drug lord who smuggles heroin into Harlem by hiding stashes inside the coffins of American soldiers returning from Vietnam, and the cop who attempts to thwart him. It’s a re-pairing of Virtuosity stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe (and you know that’s gotta get a DVD double-dip special edition the week of this flick’s theatrical release), and the positive buzz shouldn’t be all that surprising, given the solid reputation of Steven Zaillian’s script, based on an article, “The Return of Superfly,” by Mark Jacobson, who also provided the source material for Ryan Gosling’s searing 2001 leading man debut, The Believer.
The interesting thing I’m hearing, though, is that Scott’s first cut is two hours and 25 minutes, the same length of less-than-well-received Kingdom of Heaven (nevermind the 194-minute director’s cut of that film, said to be much more cohesive, interesting and historically accurate). Universal brass is said to be keen for Scott to trim the film down a bit more, but producer Brian Grazer and others are planning to fight such requests. To view the movie’s trailer, click here.
UPDATE 9/25: According to a studio source, the film is two hours and 38 minutes, even a bit longer than previously rumored.