Although director Ridley Scott has often been accused of being all style and no substance, here he delivers a complex, engrossing and magnificent real-life thriller, set in the 1970s, which impeccably recreates the garish energy, grit and style of its era. Denzel Washington plays chauffeur Frank Lucas who reinvents himself as a crime kingpin in New York, using the Vietnam War as a cover for importing heroin from Asia and building a vast criminal empire from the proceeds. His inexorable rise up the underworld ladder is juxtaposed with the desperate efforts of idealistic cop Richie Roberts, played with gruff charm by Russell Crowe, to bring him down at any cost. The irony of the situation is that while the boundlessly corrupt Washington lives a life of casual affluence and is perceived as a pillar of the community, the incorruptible Crowe is a slovenly wreck barely able to scrape together his alimony payments each month. Both actors deliver powerhouse performances, although they actually only appear on screen together for just a few minutes near the end.