In 1862, the son of a respected Irishman plans his revenge
on the vicious crime boss who murdered his father.
Gangs of New York (2002)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz,
Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson, John C. Reilly, Stephen Graham, Henry Thomas, Gary Lewis, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Liam Neeson
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography,
Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing,
Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Song (The Hands That Built America)
Gangs of New York is a true masterpiece of the 2000's that tells a brutal story of one of America's darkest periods. There was a time when New York City was divided into different factions that constantly fought and killed one another. While the film takes liberties with the true story, the one that is told is nothing short of engaging and incredibly well-acted. For a film that had Scorsese had been trying to make since 1978, the final product is amazing and a testament to the flawless talent of Daniel Day-Lewis as the merciless and unforgettable Bill the Butcher.
Our hero is Amsterdam Vallon (DiCaprio, in a fantastic performance), son of the Five Points war hero Priest Vallon (Neeson), who was killed in battle by Bill the Butcher. Amsterdam spends 16 years in prison before emerging as a young man to slither into Bill's inner circle and bide his time. The film has a near three hour runtime, so there's a lot constantly happening. A great many subplots and important characters. The payoff is consistent with all of them, and the finale is unbelievably brutal and horrific, not to mention accurate. The New York City draft riots really happened in 1863, and a lot of people were gunned down by the Union army. Scorsese doesn't hold back in his portrayal of how this went down, and he masterfully weaves it into the conflict between Amsterdam and Bill.
Every performance in this film is great, but Daniel Day-Lewis is on a completely different level. He brings his signature dedication and intensity to Bill the Butcher, making him one of the most frightening, intimidating, and unpredictable movie villains of all time. He would later do the same with Daniel Plainview, earning his second of three Oscars. While the movie is already good, he makes it great. I'd count this one among Scorsese's greatest films, as well as call it a magnificent historical retelling of a piece of American history that a lot of people have never heard of.