There are not many actors who can better embody a character than Denzel Washington. His performances - from the ones I've seen, at least - are always extremely powerful and incredibly character-driven. He can pull you in to a movie like few other people can. One of the 'others' that can compare to Denzel is Russell Crowe. The two of them together, in one movie, is like a movie that features Jessica Biel and Jessica Alba getting naked. Together.
Obviously, that comparison leaves something to be desired. Especially seeing as how Crowe and Washington don't give me hard-ons. Unless by 'hard-on' you mean extreme appreciation for their acting talents...
American Gangster was an extremely good movie. All of the acting jobs were superb. Unfortunately I was sitting within 20 feet of the screen so I could not fully appreciate the cinematography and the theater we went to wasn't the type of place one goes to to truly appreciate the audio and video qualities of a film (can't beat a fifty cent flick though). Other than the inequities of the theater the film did slow down at points. 2.5 hours is a long movie, regardless of how good it is. It's also weird when a movie, in one way or another, tends to glorify a notorious criminal. At the end of the movie it seemed as though the film maker was saying that Lucas' collaboration with the police made up for the thousands upon thousands of lives he helped destroy by selling the living shit out of heroin. The movie also made a big deal of the 'familial relationships' that Lucas established, seemingly with the point of saying that this made him a better person, in some way or another, than other drug dealers. Because that is what he was: a drug dealer on an unprecedented scale.
Oh well. It didn't make the movie any less enjoyable. It just gave me some food for thought.