After 30 years since the director’s first inspiration for Gangs of New York (2002), from a non-fiction booked similarly titled, Martin Scorsese brings a blockbuster epic to the screen. With no surprise here, Scorsese delves into another underworld of New York City. This time in the 1860s! The De Niro saga ends (until The Irishman, 2019) with Casino (1995) and the Leonardo DiCaprio series begins with Gangs of New York! Be prepared, Scorsese exhibits his new actor fascination with Leo in the next four out of five proceeding films.
DiCaprio’s character, Amsterdam Vallon, is a young Irish immigrant who returns to the slum Manhattan neighborhood of “Five Points”—a former section of New York which has since been dramatically redeveloped with street closures/changes (currently occupying the grounds of what is now Chinatown). Sixteen (16) years after his father’s death, Amsterdam returns seeking revenge against his father’s killer, William “The Butcher” Cutting, played by Daniel Day-Lewis. The Butcher is a fearless leader of an anti-immigrant gang that now rules Five Points and other sections of New York. Amsterdam infiltrates The Butcher’s inner circle, fighting for a place for the Irish people of New York.
Scorsese goes all out with sets, costumes, and other production designs, forcing the audience to believe they are actually in1860s New York. And it truly works! In addition, DiCaprio and Day-Lewis’ performances (landing Day-Lewis an Oscar nominee) never take you out of this world for a second of the two hours and 50-minute runtime. Although at times the camera can be gimmicky, the dynamic shot selection and camera movement keep you intrigued for MOST (not all) of this long runtime. The spectacle created for Gangs of New York may be some of Scorsese’s best… the only downfall - - it’s just too damn long! Unfortunately, if you are in a rush and trying to watch this movie, watching the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes of this film might just do the job! Otherwise, the film is completely fascinating in all aspects.
Story/Plot – 17/20 Direction – 18/20 Acting - 19/20
Cinematography – 18/20 Score/Soundtrack – 17/20
The Founder of @HennionProductions,