Give Universal and producer Brian Grazer credit: They certainly know how to get people psyched up for a movie, and the run-up to American Gangster may well be the most prime example of the skill. Everything about the movie’s brassy marketing campaign—from the stark black and white posters to the immodest title—sells the eager public on the promise of a hyped-up hybrid of Goodfellas and Scarface. Exposure to the movie’s trailer or 30-second TV spot is enough to make a Buddhist monk go ballistic on a pimply usher in the theater lobby.
As it turns out, though, the anticipation for American Gangster is emphatically better than actually watching American Gangster. The film is the worst kind of cinematic disappointment: a slow-paced train-wreck that doesn’t even have the decency to be interesting.