JOBLO'S MOVIE REVIEWS

SEARCH BY TITLE # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Gangs Of New York (2002)
star Printer-Friendly version
Review Date: December 17, 2002
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Jay Cocks, Steve Zaillian, Ken Lonergan
Producers: Alberto Grimaldi, Harvey Weinstein
Actors:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Amsterdam
Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher
Cameron Diaz as Jenny
Plot:
A young Irish lad named Amsterdam witnesses his father's death at the hands of a man named Bill the Butcher in the Five Points area of New York during the mid-1800s. Sixteen years later, the young boy returns to his old stomping grounds with plenty of attitude and stubble on his face, in the hopes of avenging the death of his pop. Debauchery, depravity, dishonesty and decadence ensue (along with my own shameless use of a thesaurus).
Critique:
I saw this film one day after I saw another 3-hour epic entitled THE TWO TOWERS and just as with that film, I was both looking forward and hoping to enjoy the latest from Scorsese, but just as with that film, I was ultimately disappointed. In both cases, I could argue that three hours was just too long a runtime to tell these respective stories, with each film not providing enough substance, enough character development or enough twists and turns, to keep me interested, excited or entertained throughout. In the case of GANGS OF NEW YORK, the biggest problem wasn't its runtime as much as it was the story, which felt like it was trying to appease too many agendas at the same time, and ended up not truly fulfilling any of them. Is this film about gangs in New York? Sort of...but not entirely. Is this movie about a love affair between an angry young man and a cute pick-pocket? Sort of...but not entirely. Is it about revenge, is it about the history of New York during the late 1800s? Sort of. Lots of stuff is kind of covered in this movie, but none of it goes into much detail, other than the story of the young lad who wants to avenge his father's death. That tale, on its own, isn't original or engaging enough for this kind of movie, doesn't generate enough genuine passion, and as much as Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal of the evil Bill the Butcher character kicked plenty of ass and kept me wide awake during any of his scenes, most of the picture is basically just a "build-up" to the final battle, and even that, once reached...isn't all that!

If there's one word that I can use to describe this long-in-waiting film by master filmmaker Martin Scorsese, it is "disappointing". This movie took forever to make, apparently cost over $100 million, built all of its sets entirely in Italy and was tinkered and edited with for months upon months, but the final product just doesn't cut it. There's no emotion in this movie. There's no real connection to the lead character. Why didn't they show us more of Leo as a child with his father? If you're going to make a 180-minute long movie and expect us to invest ourselves in the lead character, why not show more of his anger and thirst for revenge (see THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO for a great example of this), instead of cutting to a "16 Years Later" insert card and plenty of uninspired voice-over? On top of all that, unlike most Scorsese films, this one doesn't even feature much of his usual style, and the soundtrack/score is almost non-existent (or it sucks). DiCaprio is serviceable in his role, and Diaz isn't as much of a thorn in this movie's side as I thought she might be (I thought she would kill this flick like Stone killed CASINO for me), but other than those two, the film doesn't really get into any other characters. It's also to note that their "scorching" love scenes aren't all that, and that their chemistry is lukewarm, at best. The scene-stealer, nay...entire movie-stealer here is Daniel Day-Lewis and his caricaturish, yet ironically believable and human, portrayal of a man who just seems to want the best for his country. Day-Lewis was apparently "in character" throughout this film's entire shoot (even during his days off) and I, for one, hope that he gets nominated for his brilliant encapsulation of this character.

Other than that, the opening battle sequence is a doozy, the sets are tremendous, the authenticity of the time is without question and the film's opening credits (which actually run at the end of the film) are fun. But overall, I can't say that much about this film remained engraved in my mind once I stepped out of the theater and back into the Snow Puddles of Montreal. Actually, that's not entirely true since the film's final shot is certainly a classy and memorable one. Maybe this movie might've worked better as a two-hour flick with a clearer focus of its intentions, or maybe it might've worked as is, but with more character development, more plot turns and more emotional zing. Or maybe we will see the "ultimate Scorsese version" of the film on DVD one day, but as it stands now, I was frustrated by this film's shoddy editing, let down by its so-so story and other than Day-Lewis, unimpressed with many of its characters, all of which made for a mediocre film which runs longer than it should, and impresses with only a few sparks here and there. Check it out on video and thank me for saving you the bucks in the morning (or tell me off, if you fall in love with it). PS: Look for a cameo by Scorsese himself as a wealthy gentleman eating dinner with his family, while Cameron Diaz infiltrates his home.

(c) 2004 Berge Garabedian
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

2:33PM on 10/16/2008
I have one basic problem with this movie. Yeah, there are many great scenes and Day-Lewis is phenominal... but at the end, I came to the sad realization that the movie has absolutely no point whatsoever.
I have one basic problem with this movie. Yeah, there are many great scenes and Day-Lewis is phenominal... but at the end, I came to the sad realization that the movie has absolutely no point whatsoever.
Your Reply:



11:32AM on 12/30/2005
This is a movie that runs entirely too long; that's probably the first thing that ran through my mind as it dragged on. But other than that it's an okay movie. Not great, but okay.

With good directing, scenery, and awesome acting, this movie is about a young man's revenge against his father's killer during the 1860s draft riots in New York.

Daniel Day Lewis freakin' rocks in this movie; it's a shame that he doesn't want to continue acting and go into retirement again. His arrogance,
This is a movie that runs entirely too long; that's probably the first thing that ran through my mind as it dragged on. But other than that it's an okay movie. Not great, but okay.

With good directing, scenery, and awesome acting, this movie is about a young man's revenge against his father's killer during the 1860s draft riots in New York.

Daniel Day Lewis freakin' rocks in this movie; it's a shame that he doesn't want to continue acting and go into retirement again. His arrogance, racism, and flamboyance are so perfect that you understand why Leo likes and hates him at the same time.

Oh yeah, Leo: he was also good here (as in he was good in Catch Me. . . ), but his damn accent kept going in and out very obviously. But he kept the thing together with help from Cameron Diaz, Henry Thomas, oh yeah and Daniel Day Lewis.

Martin Scorcese handles the cast and crew like he always does - perfectly. I loved the set pieces and the cinematography was kickass. I like period films and Scorcese handles this one well.

One thing that caught my eye was that in one scene basically every woman (hooker)that is hanging on DD Lewis, DiCaprio, Thomas and every other guy in the room has their breasts pouring out but Cameron Diaz, who is sitting there fully dressed. Not that I want to see Diaz nude (I wouldn't mind), but it was too obvious that these other women are not recognizable in Hollywood and can only get bit parts as naked tramps, and Diaz can come off as the tramp that can remain fully dressed.

Oh yeah, did I mention that the movie ran too damn long? I'm thinking that there's going to be a big fight between the good guys and the bad guys but something else comes along and is drawn out forever and I have to wait a bit longer. And once this big fight finally shows up, it's a huge disappointment. The movie starts out very well but the end just leaves you wondering how it could've been better.
Your Reply: