Does Hollywood Exaggerate Things to Make Social Justice Points? (Warning: Spoilers) (Warning: Spoilers)

Movie: American Gangster Spoiler

The story of Roberts’ investigation and prosecution of Frank Lucas was adapted into the 2007 film American Gangster, starring Academy Award-winning actors Denzel Washington portraying Lucas and Russell Crowe portraying Roberts.

The film grossed more than US$127 million and was met with generally positive reviews. However, several people involved with the actual events regarding the investigation and prosecution (including Lucas and Roberts) have criticized the film as a largely fictional and exaggerated portrayal that contained inaccuracies and fabrication.

The film portrays Roberts as being mired in a personal child custody battle and suggests that this aspect of his personal life was compromised by his dogged investigation of Lucas. This was entirely fabricated, as Roberts never had a child. Roberts also criticized the portrayal of Lucas by describing it as “almost noble”.

Comparatively, Sterling Johnson, Jr., a federal judge who served as a special narcotics prosecutor and assisted the arrest and trial of Lucas, described the film as “one percent reality and ninety-nine percent Hollywood.”

In addition, Johnson described the real life Lucas as “illiterate, vicious, violent, and everything Denzel Washington was not.” Former Drug Enforcement Administration agents filed a lawsuit against Universal Studios saying that the events in the film were fictionalized and that the film defamed them and hundreds of other agents.

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