Gangs of New York (2002)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly, Brendan Gleeson, Gary Lewis, Liam Neeson

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

R. 168 mins

An ambitious and passionate tale of vengeance at all costs – this is Scorsese’s flawed masterpiece. Set in 1846 New York as Irish immigrants begin to flood the city, specifically the Five Points area, the rivalry grows between the “interlopers” and the “natives” (of Dutch and British heritage) who were born in the United States. The leader of the natives is William Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), infamously known as Bill the Butcher, who brutally murders Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), the leader of the Irish gang “The Dead Rabbits”. After witnessing the death of his father, Vallon’s son escapes the Five Points and returns 16 years later after living in a reform school for unruly young boys. Known as ‘Amsterdam’ (Leonardo DiCaprio), sets out to slay the man who killed his father by entering Bill’s close circle and plotting against him. With the melting-pot of New York as his backdrop, Scorsese tackles issues of class struggle, racial intolerance, and violent revenge. The art direction is fabulous and Day-Lewis’ acting is staggeringly good but the excessive violence and length without much depth keep Gangs of New York from reaching it’s full potential as a sweeping epic. Besides the character of Bill, the city is populated with quite dull characters and as the final credits roll, one can’t help but feel that this film is fabulously entertaining but nowhere does Scorsese drive home any real “point” amongst all the bloodshed – * * * 1/2

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