America was born in the streets
Larry Gilliard Jr.
Running Time: 166 minutes
UK Certificate: 18
Country: United States
Any DVD with so many Oscars, Golden Globes and Baftas hanging over its title is probably making a rod for its own back. It creates one helluva high expectation level on the part of the viewer. An expectation level which, in this case, is a mammoth struggle for the movie to live up to.
Running at just short of 3 hours, director Martin Scorsese obviously has a lot he wants to fit in. First off, theres the predominant plotline following Leonardo DiCaprio as the vengeful Irish laddie-o out to appease the murder of his father (Liam Neeson) by killing the moustachioed butcher responsible (Daniel Day-Lewis). Then theres the half-hearted love story unfolding between DiCaprio and an uninterested-looking Cameron Diaz. Theres also a bunch of stuff going on in the background relating to legal and political corruption, opposition to the floods of immigrants arriving at the harbour every day, and hostility to the impending Civil War army call-ups.
If my house was as cluttered as this film, Id be ashamed to let any unexpected visitors put as much as a foot past the front door. The acting is decent, though once again those expectation levels take their toll. Even Daniel Day-Lewis, widely commended for his blood-thirsty performance as New Yorks gruesome gang daddy, left me underwhelmed. Day-Lewis hadnt made a movie for a staggering five years before this one and hopefully he wasnt spending all of that time practicing his slightly-crappy NY accent. He does, however, provide us with the pieces only truly watchable character, if only because youll be curious to see who hes going to bludgeon next.
It's Got: Marvellous sets.
It Needs: To trim down the ridiculous running time by concentrating more wholly on one single aspect of the story.
DVD Extras Set design, set exploration, costume design, Five Points history lesson, Discovery channel documentary Uncovering the Real Gangs of New York, U2 The Hands That Built America music video, Making of featurette, theatrical trailer, and a cuddly toy! That last one might not be true. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10
Alternatives:Goodfellas, The Godfather Trilogy
Offers us something different from the usual (and increasingly tiresome) gangland matter, but the end product is confusing, muddled-up and far, FAR too long. Any fans of DiCaprio out there (well, it takes all sorts) would be much better off picking up a copy of the vastly-superior Catch Me If You Can.