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Overall Rating
3.46

Awesome: 27.23%
Worth A Look28.17%
Average: 21.6%
Pretty Bad: 9.39%
Total Crap: 13.62%

9 reviews, 159 user ratings


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Gangs of New York
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Scorsese Loses Battle for Independence with Miramax"
4 stars

What is America? For some its definition can be found in the words of the everlasting songs that use words like brotherhood and liberty or the grade school proclamations of allegiance, justice and the Republic. Independence, life and the pursuit of happiness are probably more fruitful words to describe the ups and downs of what America has prospered through for over 200 years and even just 15 months since the World Trade Center fell to attack. Land of the free maybe, but land of the money absolutely. The land where a studio can make a deal with one of the greatest filmmakers alive and tamper with his project until the overall meaning is all but lost.

Gangs of New York has been sitting around waiting for a release date for nearly two years now. In that time it’s be recut, refilmed, recut again until it could be recut again from the Leone-esque epic Martin Scorsese had planned into 168 minutes of skillful filmmaking that deserved the rest of its minutes. In the current form, its almost a slave to its more traditional angle of the story; a revenge piece older than the true-life events that weave in and out of the tale like the “set against the backdrop of” films we always hear about instead of subscribing to the actual backdrop.

Which is not to say that Scorsese has lost a step behind the camera as evidenced in the brilliant opening sequence when one gang, The Dead Rabbits, make their way through and out of the catacombs of New York in 1846 to engage in battle for control of the infamous Five Points. The Irish immigrants led by Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), aren’t very welcome by Bill “The Butcher” Cutting (Daniel-Day Lewis) and culminate their differences in a remarkably bloody battle in the streets (peppered by some misplaced rock music) that leaves Priest dead and his young son orphaned.

The boy, now known as Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns in 1863 looking to return the favor to The Butcher. The Civil War is in full swing, sides have shifted and the red-blooded Americans still don’t appreciate those coming in off the boat, unless its to vote accordingly or sent off immediately to fight for their new country. Bill has become the respected muscle in the territory, carving up the wishes of politician Boss Tweed (Jim Broadbent) to ensure their freedom to rule. The admittedly aging Bill (46 at the time) ends up taking quite a shine to the young Amsterdam, seeing a bit of himself in the lad, and takes him under his wing while further compromises are made to what he came here to accomplish in the first place.

Daniel-Day Lewis doesn’t have a wasted scene in the film and it’s his performance that keeps the symbol-minded story in check. Bill believes in his country and will fight to the death for it if need be, but still only choosing to battle for the section of the world he’s carved out for himself. He doesn’t take up arms to fight for the South despite his bigoted underpinnings, but has no qualms about killing a man in full view of hundreds to preserve the way of life he wants for Americans. With a broken accent and a squint that’s in perfect sync with Scorsese’s threat of sudden violence, Lewis has us remembering him long after the film is over, which is more than we can say for anything else.

We certainly won’t be thinking about the catalyst romance between Amsterdam and beautiful pickpocket, Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz); more to establish jealousy and betrayal than any passion. DiCaprio’s hero(?) is already bland enough without having to go toe-to-toe with the charismatic Butcher and when secrets are revealed, it thrusts the story into a overly choppy middle passage that doesn’t flesh out a millisecond of the various important sub-conflicts. What happened to freedom fighter turned corrupt cop Happy Jack (John C. Reilly) whose backstory is non-existent to provide any palpable tension in his confrontation with Amsterdam? We watch longtime friend, Johnny Sirocco (Henry Thomas) shift his loyalty quicker than the razor blade can touch the celluloid. Brendan Gleeson’s ex-mercenary Monk proves to be an interesting analomy; certainly a richer and more complex character than Amsterdam and could have benefitted from more than just the change-of-heart scenes.

Scorsese has stated in recent interviews that the reported tension between himself and the Weinstein boys at Miramax was well-exaggerated, even going so far to explain on Inside the Actors Studio that the decisions were made to make the film more “playable.” For a director who is no stranger to lengthy projects, (Goodfellas, The Last Temptation of Christ, Casino, Kundun) to hear him cop to making the film he’s been thinking about for over 20 years more accessible to an audience, or making it less complex for the Big Fat Greek Wedding crowd is a slap-in-the-face disappointment that reeks more of studio politicking than the mind of a great artist. The revelation that there will be NO original extended cut on the forthcoming DVD (one that HAS been seen in many circles) makes one wonder if this story will ever be given the treatment it truly deserves.

Gangs of New York is a handsome production to be sure. Dante Ferretti’s art direction is an old-fashioned scaling of the city slums with a very limited use of CGI magic. It never loses your interest thanks to both the visuals and Lewis’ Oscar-worthy performance. In its current incarnation, Gangs shows you history without really teaching us anything. Not that a blatant history lesson is what we want when seeing a motion picture, but it would behoove viewers to have some documentarian knowledge of the period or you may look right past why and how the Draft Riots occur in the climax; the irony of one gang’s time over and another, more influential group taking shape all but lost.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety,” said Benjamin Franklin, well before we all forgot to define “melting pot” and the necessity to classify one’s citizenship with a hyphen before the word “American.” Gangs of New York touches the surface of these problems through racism and corrupt government, yet can’t help but feel anti-climactic when one leader represents a dying breed of ideology and the other just an instrument of vengeance who knows about the sword, but not the pen. Ironic how a film about the struggle for independence in America would succumb to a director losing his artistic freedom to recount it. Maybe in another hundred years, someone will document how Miramax was once the bastion of hope for independent filmmakers around the world, but in their clash for cash, Oscars and Hollywood dominance, grew in power until the only independence they cared about were themselves.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6489&reviewer=198
originally posted: 12/20/02 11:09:53
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User Comments

9/28/17 Bents DDL and the setting are the show 4 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell epic 4 stars
3/03/13 Monday Morning Learn a bit about the history of the time (Irish Mobs) & you'll appreciate the film more. 4 stars
10/10/11 monkeybiscuit Overrated indulgence from an old director who is past his prime 3 stars
9/15/11 Clemdane Looks beautiful but has no compelling emotional center 3 stars
2/13/11 Quigley Day-Lewis gives one of the greatest performances in cinema history. Not to be missed. 5 stars
6/09/10 Serge Epic albeit overdone vision of New York's beginning 4 stars
6/08/10 Flathead King What a load of rubbish. 1 stars
4/25/10 art BILL the BUTCHER was AN ASSHOLE!,this film SUCK"S! 1 stars
3/02/10 SEBSEB Great film. The review must be an idiot if he doesnt know 'check' from 'cheque'! 5 stars
8/23/09 Jade Hellcat Maggie does have at least 1 line. She says something like "Just gimme a drink!" 3 stars
7/03/09 the dork knight Overwrought, hyper-realistic, leads nowhere. Only Daniel Day-Lewis seems to be trying!! 3 stars
4/20/09 Ron Ingrasin Masterpiece,even if somewhat historically incorrect 5 stars
10/26/08 TigerSlap Unintentionally funny - while being a small orgy of pointless violence... 1 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting storyline. 3 stars
8/17/08 ROB best Scorcese film ever 5 stars
6/17/08 Marvin Very ordinary and a waste of time 1 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT DONT SEE IT! 1 stars
4/15/08 JT Unbelievably good. Most epic movie ever. Awesome Western/mob movie combination 5 stars
2/08/08 mb It wasn't worth watching and was really stupid really. 2 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Is Scorcese trying to be Spielberg?& Diaz is unintentionally hilarous, esp. w/ Irish accent 2 stars
10/17/07 Jimmy One of the best soundtracks Ive ever heard but besides that it was overly violent/sexual 2 stars
12/05/06 Stanley Thai One of the best films of the year. Great movie! 5 stars
8/27/06 stu i'll never forget this film... 5 stars
8/24/06 Agent Sands Scorsese is so amazing that he's made me riveted by a subject that I've little interest in. 5 stars
6/25/06 great loved it 5 stars
5/15/06 Simon y'know i used to like this movie alright, but really... it IS surprisingly shallow... 3 stars
3/28/06 Indrid Cold Mildly interesting, but really just a mediocre western that happens to be set in NYC. 3 stars
2/26/06 chean its great 5 stars
1/08/06 gerry dunne like many Scorsese movies - way below expectations 1 stars
11/30/05 tatum Historically inaccurate, but Day-Lewis is hilarious...oh, he wasn't supposed to be? 2 stars
10/16/05 Moctezuma A good, though, not great, Scorsese picture 5 stars
10/11/05 Wisamane They worked extremly hard to get the 1880's look, Incredible movie, cast and plot!!! 5 stars
9/05/05 R.W. Welch A shade overdrawn but a good yarn about a little known era. 4 stars
9/04/05 sweetgrrl1972 About 1/2 way through when DiCaprio DOESN'T die, I was bitterly bitterly disappointed. 1 stars
8/30/05 LS Galvin Definitely worth a watch - Day-Lewis is incredible! 4 stars
8/13/05 ES Ug say 'Lewis great, Leo stinky= movie ok' 3 stars
6/25/05 Mr Fluffy Day Lewis' 'tache lost out on Oscar night. And so did that magnificent top hat. 4 stars
6/20/05 Titus Uh . . . I don't get it. This was really pretty dumb. Waste of time. 2 stars
6/13/05 Agent Sands It's good, but not up to Scorsese par. 4 stars
4/22/05 pym day lewis is absolutely amazing. very good film but not scorcese's best 5 stars
4/17/05 buic very underrated film. perhaps the best movie ever made.... 5 stars
4/02/05 Cynthia Willingham Great film. Very well done all the way around 5 stars
2/18/05 susee wat the fuc the ending says 2 stars
2/17/05 Daveman Fabulous sets and some impressive performances (even from Leo), not much fun to sit through 3 stars
2/12/05 roy all i can say is wow. 5 stars
1/30/05 Bob Barton Great film...Scorsese should have won Best Director Oscar for this one. 5 stars
11/18/04 Theman987 Great 5 stars
10/24/04 UMER day-lewis deserved an oscar and the movie rocks 5 stars
10/16/04 Taylor Fladgate DiCaprio as an Irish gang leader? OOO, I'm scared! 1 stars
10/15/04 MARZ AWESOME. A LITTLE TO VIOLENT 5 stars
9/26/04 Tor Honolulu How can you not respect Marty's pet project? Danny & Leo do not disappoint 5 stars
8/27/04 Steve Newman Thoroughly enjoyable even overhere in the UK 4 stars
8/24/04 Naka Flawed, muddled, but a fully enjoyable run. 4 stars
8/10/04 kyotomatt People need to stop thinking boring=deep. WAKE UP! 1 stars
8/09/04 rory biggest oscar snub ever 5 stars
8/07/04 ELI um....What was so great about this movie? I hated all the characters! 2 stars
7/19/04 assassin_chick Emotionally charged--a lot is based on true history. We could learn something here. 5 stars
6/25/04 Karen Stockdale Lewis overacts wonderfully and the scenery and fight sequences are incredible 4 stars
6/23/04 Daveman Convoluted and confused, but I'll be damned if there aren't some powerful moments here. 4 stars
6/09/04 horny guy AMAZING! 5 stars
5/19/04 rich do not miss this film. very touching indeed 5 stars
5/04/04 Whatevr A bit of overacting, but most certainly watchable 4 stars
3/23/04 Bikramjit Best movie of 2002 5 stars
3/06/04 zaw very good movie 5 stars
2/15/04 homer holy shit, it was long but it was one outstanding piece of work 5 stars
2/12/04 Chris terrible terrible 1 stars
2/12/04 Shams Huque Daniel Day-Lewis is incredibel! 5 stars
1/31/04 Ultron Daniel Day-Lewis is tremendous. 5 stars
1/21/04 will I agree with eric and erik - and also, diaz sucked hard 3 stars
1/16/04 gloria intersting movie,daniel day lewis is great 4 stars
1/03/04 A F Leo sucks. It needed a better cast. 4 stars
12/24/03 Joel W. De Sario I would rather take a beating then suffer through this mess again. 2 stars
12/05/03 reptilesni ZzzzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 1 stars
11/15/03 Ultron Give praise to Daniel Day-Lewis for one of the all time great performances 5 stars
10/11/03 Jinnvisible Scorsese`s use of narrative to fill script and screenplay holes brings antique cinema feel 4 stars
10/10/03 Erik Van Sant Day-Lewis is a fucking force of nature. Too bad the movie can't handle it. CGI elephant. 3 stars
9/28/03 Alan First good DeCrapio role since "...Gilbert Grape." Maybe I should spell his name correctly. 4 stars
9/04/03 Gray "America was born in the streets"? horseshit!!!! maybe NY :) but not America 2 stars
8/14/03 WD40 Excellent! Especially Daniel Day-lewis 5 stars
8/08/03 guisada not impressed 3 stars
7/21/03 I Would Overblown, but worth a look for its beautiful art direction and costumes. 4 stars
7/18/03 EZE the wet dream of violent but epic masterpieces, good supporting actors too 5 stars
7/16/03 123 HOLLZ GREAT REALLY VIOLENT 5 stars
7/12/03 NBCraftsman Early America portrayed with the grandeur (&) spectacle of Fellini (see: Dante Ferretti) 4 stars
7/12/03 glad i saw it! wow great film so inspiring 5 stars
7/11/03 malcolm sweet land of liberty 4 stars
7/09/03 turbocharge Other than a misplaced Cameron Diaz whose character wasn't necessary, this was a great film 4 stars
7/08/03 JC like a braveheart for the civil war, and Dicaprio has finally grown up as an actor 5 stars
7/04/03 oey rome huh? 2 stars
6/13/03 owen barty wonderfull intelligent film 5 stars
6/08/03 MEGAN RAFFLE LEO WAS HOT.........GREAT MOVIE AS WELL 5 stars
6/07/03 amazing 1 word.....wow 5 stars
6/05/03 Elizaveta Its okay overall, but Daniel Day Lewis makes a great villain! 4 stars
5/23/03 Ryan F. Not Martins best by any means, but this IS a great movie. And Jesus Christ its bloody! 5 stars
5/17/03 beach *cough* what can i say cept plz dun make me go thru it again(IM BACK MISS ME??) 1 stars
5/17/03 Jareth Good film. You really do get the feeling you're in 19th Century New York 4 stars
5/14/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!!!) Overrated, even though it's OK. Lots of blood. Not among Scorsese's best, though. 4 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon I'm sorry, but this was complete SHIT. It has the stupidest characters since UHF. 1 stars
5/08/03 Danielle Bryant Great 5 stars
5/04/03 123 playa pretty hot movie 5 stars
5/01/03 Valerie Cameron Overlong; some commanding moments; overall seems more sensational than convincing. 3 stars
4/24/03 Fran I hade to stop myself from hurl;ing at the crapness severeal times 1 stars
4/24/03 PLEASEBEQUIET one word to describe this movie-SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT 1 stars
4/23/03 GoldieHawn Im goldie hawn and i thought gangs of new york was horrible cameron and leo shouldnever act 1 stars
4/20/03 Dillon The "Matrix" set do not have opinions that matter. This is a great movie! 5 stars
4/15/03 JoE_fOr_PrEsIdEnT Wow what a hunk of junk. How can u say it is good havent u seen all the mistakes!PHEW! 1 stars
4/15/03 Francis I agree with Paquin's review, but it was still entertaining 4 stars
4/13/03 OrLaNdO_LoVeS_FrAn_4eVa What a piece of crap!Characters dull!Directing atrocious!!Please do not bother! 1 stars
4/10/03 Ross Bernard For once, Paquin's review is fairly accurate. This movie blew. 2 stars
4/07/03 y2mckay Like most of Scorcese's films - overlong, overedited, and gimmicky - but watchable. 4 stars
4/04/03 Jack Bourbon STINKBOMB! Stupid, stupid, stupid characters. Fuck 'em, they deserved death. 2 stars
3/23/03 sicologus It is just magistral. Day-Lewis, you´re the one 5 stars
3/22/03 GMan One of Scorscese's best, despite DiCrapio. Long live Day-Lewis. And Brian, learn to spell. 5 stars
3/20/03 Shadaan Felfeli Mediocre .Go watch the Pianist instead ! 3 stars
3/20/03 Andrew Carden Good Performance By Diaz Cannot Save This Silly, Contrived, and Boring Flick. 2 stars
3/19/03 Debbie This movie sucks DICK! 1 stars
3/18/03 Valerie Cameron Overlong; some commanding moments; overall seems more sensational than convincing. 3 stars
3/15/03 Angolmois Goodfellas-Lite... Except we also have to endure Diaz and DiCaprio's hamming... 1 stars
3/13/03 Stanleycup35 Unbelieveable. Probably the best movie I"ve ever seen 5 stars
3/12/03 Valerie Cameron Overlong; some commanding moments; overall seems more sensational than convincing. 3 stars
3/02/03 King of Swords Not Marty's best but certainly watchable. Atanu is a big baby 4 stars
2/27/03 atanu yeah...an epic like britney spears is a 'diva'. grow up. 2 stars
2/26/03 James Renwick Just goes to show that average film making produces average films. 3 stars
2/24/03 meatgrinder mark bill the butcher is my hero- great fellow. ( francis dolarhyde is still no.1, though ) 5 stars
2/23/03 John Bale Stephen King meets Gone with the Wind. Bloody ! 4 stars
2/20/03 catatafish started great, ended abysmally - it seemed like they were running low on script 1 stars
2/13/03 wetware Could've been great editing lousy in parts good costumes DDL was good 3 stars
2/13/03 mattski mish mash which never really knows where it is heading 3 stars
2/11/03 Ultron The best(and most underrated film) of the year 5 stars
2/11/03 LaNeal Nelson it was wonderfuly done good some things were not really placed by historicaly evented, 4 stars
2/07/03 Goofy Maxwell 'GoNY' is not a NY Hist. Society or Tourism Board production. But it's sho nuff Scorsese. 5 stars
2/05/03 123 if this movie is ever worthy for an award, it is the most violent movie of the year 4 stars
1/27/03 Tobias Klevang Conventional and rather unpersonal for being Scorsese, still a very good film 4 stars
1/22/03 Bobby Peru Best Film of 2002-Bold, Big, Brilliant! 5 stars
1/14/03 thejames Leo is fucking great. Pretty good but not amazing. one of the better movies ive seen recent 4 stars
1/13/03 kosta dicrapio ate ass 1 stars
1/12/03 jesse williams i walked out....granted i snuck in...but i never do that 1 stars
1/12/03 David A. Tries to romanticize crime. Let's face it--street gangs are low class, illiterate scum. 3 stars
1/04/03 George Jung This movie had Daniel-Day Lewis, violence and tits...and the movie was still weak. 3 stars
1/01/03 Jesse the Movie Ventura Day Lewis holds this film in his fist. Waiting for two years and wasnt that good. 3 stars
1/01/03 STEVE GIVE DANIEL-DAY LEWIS AND THIS FILM THERE OSCARS NOW!BEST OF 2002 5 stars
1/01/03 F-Dog Best movie of the year. 5 stars
12/30/02 artemishia Pretty good but way too long. i was ready to leave the 1st hour 3 stars
12/29/02 Jiz Boring. 3 stars
12/29/02 Terry M. Last hour by far makes up for the love story, fucking awesome action sequences 5 stars
12/29/02 Tony Starks Daniel Day plays one of the bests villians in awhile!! 4 stars
12/28/02 Ashley Better than I thought it was going to be. Actually thought provoking at times. 4 stars
12/28/02 Terry M. Underrated 5 stars
12/27/02 ATG Overrated 3 stars
12/27/02 Jesse the Movie Ventura Scorsese's worst:-( Daniel Day-Lewis carries this film in his fist. 3 stars
12/27/02 snowconehead Mediocre acting from all but two, Daniel Day Lewis carried the entire 3 hours 5 stars
12/26/02 bob leather jacket high calibur 5 stars
12/24/02 Film Dude Not bad, but takes way too fucking long to get where it was going. 4 stars
12/23/02 Edler DD Lewis saves the film from the craphouse. The story is out of control. Absurd/Bizarre. 3 stars
12/23/02 Obi Wan Wow! Daniel Day @ his Best. . .Def one of the year's best!!! 5 stars
12/22/02 Terry M. easily one of the finest films to come out this year. stunning work from scorsese. 5 stars
12/22/02 Gary Great scenes, Cameron Diaz deserves best supporting actress!!!! 4 stars
12/21/02 Todd Lewis is the saving grace of an otherwise predictable film 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  20-Dec-2002 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  13-Feb-2003




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