Movie Twenty Eight
On paper, Gangs of New York should be an outstanding work of cinematic genius. In practice the movie has several high points but falls short, resulting in disappointment.
One of the main strengths of Gangs of New York is Daniel Day-Lewis playing Bill “The Butcher”. Day-Lewis is such a tremendous actor and this is one of his best roles, in my opinion. Leonardo DiCaprio is solid, but I always have a hard time seeing him as anybody but himself. Having Cameron Diaz in the movie seems unnecessary to me. When a film is two and half hours long, we don’t need a love story thrown into the mix.
The plot at its most basic is about rival gangs controlling territory of New York and fighting for political power as well. DiCaprio’s father was killed by Day-Lewis and he is out for revenge. It is rooted in factual history, and is even based on a nonfiction book. This history is somewhat lost in some of the over-the-top sets and characters, though.
Something that should be a major asset to the movie is Martin Scorsese, but I never felt like I was watching a Scorsese movie. As I mentioned before, the film is quite long (167 minutes) and it feels like it. Calling it “bloated” may not be fair, but it is definitely unfocused. Personally, I think a better story could have been told in under two hours if some parts had been reeled in.
Despite some disappointments, Gangs of New York is still a good movie but it’s not the level of quality we have come to associate with Scorsese’s films.
I give it 3 glass eyes out of 5.