'Gangs of New York'
(Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz / R / 165 mins / Miramax)
Overview:Martin Scorsese's sweeping tale follows a young Irish-American immigrant, Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio), who returns to the Five Points section of New York City in 1863. His father (Liam Neeson) was killed there 16 years earlier by William Cutting, aka Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day-Lewis), a powerful anti-immigrant gang leader. Cameron Diaz co-stars as a pickpocket who was raised by Cutting in her youth and who is now in love with Amsterdam. Around them, the Civil War is in full swing, and the upcoming conscription is throwing the city into a panic, culminating in a city-wide riot.
Verdict: Sure, this latest "epic" tale, 'Gangs of New York' falls somewhat short of great film status, but it is still a richly impressive and densely realized work of art. A grand achievement in both history and anthropology, 'Gangs ...' is unfortunately marred by sketchy characters, a predictable storyline, stilted dialogue, empty symbolism and a theatricality that's enjoyable but serves no thematic purpose ! So, as you can tell, the film has it's ups and down journalistically, but at all times remains both astonishing and audacious in quite equal amounts. I guess, in a finale of words, 'Gangs of New York' is an epic, meticulously researched and yet ultimately disappointing with regard the constant feeling that it was created stillborn from its extended labor.
Reviewed by Russ Trunk