Gangs of New York
it at Amazon!
plot in a nutshell
It's just before and during the Civil War, and the city of New York is in a
war of it's own. Corruption runs rampant, along with street gangs of
every type. The worst area of New York City, called the Five Points
district, is the setting for the majority of the film.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays a young
man imprisoned after his father (Liam Neeson) is killed in a gang war by
William Cutting, aka Bill the Butcher (Daniel Day Lewis). Sixteen years later he has returned to the city,
and becomes a protégé to the man who killed his father. His plans
for retribution go awry, but in the end a form of justice is served.
This film covers a period of
American history normally left out of our text books, and might just
convince you to look further into this time in New York City.
Spoiler Free Thoughts
The film begins
with a war between rival NYC gangs, during a period of American history when
gangs ruled the inner city. The 'natives', represented by Daniel
Day-Lewis' character, feel that the newcomers don't deserve the same
treatment and rights as those born here, who's fathers died fighting for the
freedom of the country. Liam Neeson represents the newcomers, the
Irish, flowing into the U.S. as the potato famine and poverty drive them
from their homeland.
character, Amsterdam Vallon, witnesses the death of his father at the hands
of Bill the Butcher during a gang war. He is sent away to Hellgate
prison, an appropriately named version of 'reform' school. He returns
16 years later to avenge his father.
here's where the film takes a slight turn from the usual. Each year,
his father's death is still celebrated by Bill the Butcher and the other
gangs - it was a great turning point for the gangs, and while Bill might be
a cruel, hateful bigot, he is also a man who respects great bravery and
strength, traits he admired in young Amsterdam's father. He plots to
kill Bill at this festival.
the weeks and months prior however, he becomes close to Bill through several
situations, and begins to find himself admiring the man he hates, taking him
on as a second father figure. Bill sees Amsterdam as the son he never
had, and the two develop a deep relationship before the inevitable
disintegration and final challenge.
is an excellent period piece, with lavish sets, fantastic cinematography,
and excellent costumes. You are brought into the period seamlessly,
and Scorsese does a marvelous job creating an epic feel. This is
Scorsese on top of his game. He brings us a period of American history
we rarely hear about or see, and weaves the facts with the fantasy to give
us an entertaining and thought provoking film.
DiCaprio and Day-Lewis do an excellent job with their roles, and you can
truly see the bond form between them as their relationship progresses.
Cameron Diaz, as the necessary love interest, doesn't have much to do, or
does she do what there is particularly well. Her accent tends to drift
about quite a bit, but the rest of the cast was extremely believable, and
the supporting roles by Jim Broadbent, Henry Thomas and John C. Reilly all
add to the overall film.
Rating - Buy It
is one worth having around to view more than once, although at a run time of
about 3 hours that might not be too often. Of the Academy Award films
released so far - Far From Heaven, About Schmidt, The Pianist, The Hours and
Gangs of New York - this is my clear favorite. Chicago is yet to be
released, but while I don't hate musicals, I'd be extremely surprised if I
enjoyed it more than Gangs of New York.
Spoiler Laden Thoughts
aren't any plot points to discuss here - I guess it's not true that only bad
movies have no need for a spoiler discussion!