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Ridley Scott puts on his "sweeping saga" gameface again, this time not for the sci-fi vistas of Blade Runner or the ancient world of Gladiator but for an urban epic. American Gangster gives the story of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a real-life Harlem crime lord who built an empire on Southeast Asian heroin in the 1970s. Running parallel to Lucas's somewhat standard story is the investigation led by a persistent New Jersey cop, Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe). Roberts is a more interesting character than Lucas--too honest for his own good, unlucky in his personal life--and this kind of character, easily patronized by others, fits Crowe like a polyester shirt. Scott's tendency to hit his points square on the noggin is much in evidence here, including the typecasting of the supporting roles and the predictable Serpico atmosphere of the whole thing. (And speaking of supporting actors, the film needs more Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose role as a Lucas sidekick feels cut down.) It succeeds as a kind of chewy entertainment, fueled by the presence of two big stars working their muscles. Both Washington and Crowe look pretty brawny here.