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Gangs of New York (2002)

Ultra-gory history of the Irish immigrant to the city of New York and the inter gang feuds between the residents of Five Points

Directed by:

Martin Scorsese

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 166 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

Country: United States

1860. Life was hard back then. And it's especially hard when you don't know whether you're an action/thriller, a documentary or a drama and that's definitely the case with Gangs of New York.

As the title suggests, the story focuses on the lives of the gangs in an area of New York called the Five Points. Life is hard for these gangs; brute force speaks louder than words and at the top of the chain is Bill 'The Butcher' Cutting (Day-Lewis), a man who will do anything to keep his status.

The film begins with an exceedingly bloody battle between two rival gangs. A young Amsterdam Vallon (DiCaprio) watches his father hewn down by Bill the Butcher. Twenty years later and he returns to the Five Points for vengeance. He befriends the Butcher and grows in his confidence while planning his death. All good, clean fun.

The biggest problem with this movie is that it seems to be telling three stories, one of vengeance, one of life in the Five Points and one of the Civil War and mob riots.

Hang on – that's four stories. See what I mean? So much is happening in this movie that nothing is clear. It's very hazy and confusing. If only Scorsese had decided which story to tell and stuck to it. Maybe next time he'll tell us all beforehand…

The film meanders its way through countless minutes before there's any real conclusion. And even when the end does come, you'll be left feeling unfulfilled as the revenge of which this story focuses is empty and not in any way what you would expect.

Best acting surprisingly goes to DiCaprio. A lot of people have said that Day-Lewis was outstanding in this role, but I can't help but feel his performance as Bill the Butcher seemed a little forced. DiCaprio and Diaz shone as the near innocents in a land of bloody corruption.

It's Got: Buckets of blood, gore and violence. Fantastic performances from Day-Lewis, Diaz and DiCaprio

It Needs: To be two hours shorter. To decide what story its telling and stick to it.

Alternatives:

Pulp Fiction, The Godfather Trilogy

Summary

Good. Gangs of New York is like a really good looking (but boring) date. You hope there's some sugar waiting for you if you persevere, but you've got to get through three hours of monotony before you reach it. And like a boring date, there's not enough substance here to bring you back for a repeat performance.

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