Based on the true story of Frank Lucas this rise-and-fall movie suffers from following a formula that we think of as fictional. But truth is not stranger than, it is pretty much exactly the same as, fiction.
Our hero, the driver of a dead Harlem gangster, finds an ingenious way to exploit the Vietnam War to import better quality drugs cheaper. Samuel Smiles would have been proud of him. He then uses his family to run the business as if North Carolina was a province of the mezzogiorno. He deals with crooked cops and fellow gangsters in one of two ways; he makes a deal or he clips them. Behind the scenes is Russell Crowe the incorruptible ex-cop and now a fed who works to bring down Frank.
So far it sounds like Serpico meets The French Connection and The Godfather, and one wonders how much these fictional treatments were affected by the real events portrayed in this film. The result is a competent gritty crime film but one that yields few surprises.
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