The first time I saw this movie was years ago but I decided not to write a review about it back then, since I felt that this movie had to be seen again before I could form a judgment about it. There had to be something I was missing and thought I might appreciate it way better the second time around. But no, my opinion really hasn't changed about it, now that I have seen the movie again.

Of course I love Martin Scorsese just as much as any other movie lover but that doesn't mean I'm also in love with all of his projects. Yet this was a movie that got received well by most other critics at the time. Perhaps people were too scared to admit that the great Scorsese had delivered two disappointing movie project in a row, in a few years time. His previous movie "Bringing Out the Dead" was not received too well (which was a movie I still really liked by the way) and it was as if the movie world simply wouldn't accept the next great Scorsese project to be a failure as well. People were hungry for a great Scorsese again and it seemed like most minds were made up already before "Gangs of New York" got finally released. Same thing sort of happened with "The Departed", with as a big different that that movie indeed was a great one.

But really, in all fairness and objectivity, this just isn't a great film. I really blame it on the concept, since it's also obviously hard to blame the talent behind the camera's or any of its magnificent cast-members.

I just never understood Scorsese's fascination and passion for this project. He wanted to make this movie ever since the '70's but due to various different reasons it never fell through. I really don't understand this, since the concept of the movie is such a weird one and not in a good or fascinating kind of way. A bunch of lawless bums battling each other to the death in the streets of early New York? I don't really see the appeal of it to turn this into an historic drama. Yes, I know this all in one way or another got based on facts but that doesn't make the movie any more interesting to watch. It's just an odd concept, that doesn't appeal to me in any way.

Because of this, I couldn't ever take interest in the story and anything that was happening in it, as well as for its characters, which I couldn't care less about really. And there really is no good reason for this movie to be nearly 3 hours long. It's just long because it wanted to be epic but it doesn't add much to the movie or its story really. Not that you'll easily get bored by this movie though. There still is plenty happening and the actors make sure you keep watching till the end.

It's a movie that is much better known and appreciated due to its acting really. Daniel Day-Lewis is of course perfect, in his first movie role since his early retirement, which lasted only a few years. It doesn't matter who or what he plays, he also makes sure he totally becomes the character and puts everything into it. And yes, Leonardo DiCaprio was also quite good and this movie perhaps was the one in which he showed the world what a great talent he was. There were still a lot of nay-sayers at the time, which had everything to do with his role in "Titanic" and how much some people hated that movie. It's also a movie with a real solid supporting cast in it, that is also filled with big names, such as Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly, Henry Thomas, Liam Neeson and Brendan Gleeson.

Thing that didn't worked out, which involved the movie its actors was the chemistry between Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. There absolutely was none really and you should wonder if this movie and its story actually did require to have a love story weaved into it. It probably could had made the movie a much shorter and more pleasant one if it got left out. It didn't really seem to suit the story in the first place anyway.

On a more positive not again; thing that obviously stands out about this movie are its visuals. They very obviously did a great job with recreating the New York of mid-19th century. The movie has a very distinctive look and feeling to it, which is all due to the authenticity of it. The sets, make-up and costumes all really help to make this movie a visual spectacle and next to its acting, is the best thing about this movie.

Perhaps I'm still missing something but this is far from a great, interesting or entertaining movie in my opinion.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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