(Credit: Netflix)

Film Flashback

Netflix Flashback: The brutal explosion of Ridley Scott's 'American Gangster'

We are diving into another week of looking back at the best films on Netflix right now. Sure, the streaming platform is more than well-equiped to provide a heap of fresh new content every month. But sometimes, it’s worth exploring the deeper reaches of its library of movies and picking a classic from the past. That’s why we use Netflix Flashback to give you a taste of the best that’s out there. This week we’re looking at Ridley Scott’s American Gangster from 2007.

Across an astounding career of 40 years at the very top of Hollywood, Ridley Scott’s flame of creativity and imagination is still burning. A meticulous and masterful director, Scott has had a tumultuous journey that has seen him flip between making incredible and pioneering movies to sloppy and critical failures. However, the director has left an indelible mark on the cinematic legacy, and movies like this one only cement that spot further.

There are a few moments in the annals of cinema when stars shine bright and confirm their place in the cosmos of Hollywood forevermore. While director Ridley Scott may well have been an icon for decades before he delivered American Gangster, his choice for casting Russel Crowe and Denzel Washington would set each man’s career trajectory into the stratosphere.

In what are Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington’s first-ever leading roles, they deliver phenomenal performances, cementing their legacy in Hollywood. Josh Brolin and the rest of the supporting cast are splendid as well. Scott borrows heavily from films like Scarface, The Godfather, Goodfellas and more, deriving inspiration from tropes in gangster films, blaxploitation films and that of a level-headed crime lord.

The gripping narrative is complemented by dynamic on-screen presences and the visual grandeur exuded by the performances of the two greatest actors in the history of cinema. It also featured Idris Elba as one of the pivotal roles who feared he was shot on set during a particularly hair-raising incident.

Based on the true story, the film revolves around Frank Lucas, after he establishes a prosperous Harlem heroin import business after the death of his leader Bumpy Johnson. He ensures his position by forming loyal allies in the New York Mafia. The plot is also centred on Newark cop Richie Roberts who is ostracised for his honesty. Heading the joint narcotics task force with the federal government, he is determined to bring the drug lord down.

Watch American Gangster on Netflix now.