Welcome to America
Gangs of New York
Review by Ross Anthony

Back in 1864, in the rougher part of town, gangs decided the social structure of things. Glass-eyed, greasy-haired Bill the butcher is artfully, awesomely, charismatically played by Daniel Day-Lewis. Give this guy a nomination! He's so able and since the script gives Amsterdam (Leo) very little motivation besides revenge, viewers might likely root for Bill instead.

Paradoxically, Bill's rabid racism curbs when it comes to honoring deserving enemies. This is a character inconsistency that Day's magic, makes us accept -- somehow.

Just as Day works his mojo to hide these flaws, so does Scorcese with a strong fiery visual style, driving pace, passionate characters and a simple unabashed belief that this film is to be awesome. You will almost believe it's awesome too. Actually, a strong climax might have done it. But the present one falls rather mutely, due in part, to the above problems and the civil war side-story that never really integrates strongly. Oh, and there's a love story of sorts with (Diaz) that starts in well enough, but by the end, makes less sense.

That said, kudos to the cinematography, acting, costuming, art direction!

All are top-notch A+ work.

Gangs vie for a state of power, while the civil war rages on behind the scenes. One awesome sequence shows immigrant Irish arrive at the dock, get their papers, guns and union army uniforms and in the same slow craning pan board a ship one by one as cheap wooden caskets are hurried off its deck. What an awesome concise powerful statement about the ugliness of war. This is one of my favorite sequences of the year!

Besides an offensive disgusting bigot, Bill is also a butcher and a murderer, so if the site of animals and humans being hacked up offends you, I'd suggest a pass. Btw, it's 168 minutes long.

  • Gangs of New York. Copyright © 2002. Rated R.
  • Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly, Henry Thomas, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson.
  • Directed by Martin Scorsese.
  • Screenplay by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan.
  • Produced by Alberto Grimaldi, Harvey Weinstein at Miramax.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:09:51 PDT