"The movie is strange and muddled--a disorganized epic...There's something movieish and too familiar about this plot, with its rivalry between good and bad fathers, its suggested Oedipal tensions. Yet it might have worked if Day-Lewis had anyone to act with. He doesn't. DiCaprio, muscled up and grim-faced, his finely cut features fuzzed with a wispy beard, his acquired breasts now larger than those of his female co-star, settles into a stolid attempt at macho, and gives a solemn, uncommunicative performance that leaves one longing for James Cagney's bantam-cock walk...Scorsese is caught between a film epic's demand for poetry and beauty and his own taste for rawness and discord. One feels the strain in almost every scene...the picture, for all its movement, is rarely exhilarating." --David Denby, The New Yorker

"It is never dull, but I must confess that I wish it were longer, so that the lives of the protagonists, rather than standing out in relief against a historical background, were more fully embedded within it...'Gangs of New York' is an important film as well as an entertaining one...The director's great accomplishment has been to bring to life not only the texture of the past but its force and velocity as well. ..It shows us a world on the brink of vanishing and manages to mourn that world without doubting the inevitability or the justice of its fate." --A. O. Scott, The New York Times

"The film plays like an interminable airplane flight: You look at your watch, hoping its nearly time to land, only to realize with a sinking heart you're not even halfway there...when we are not being bored we are being assaulted by the film's palpable violence...Daniel Day-Lewis, who apparently listened to Eminem to keep his rage level up, gives an impeccable performance as the dandified, psychotic dragon Bill the Butcher...the strongest attitude DiCaprio can manage is the petulance of a sullen choir boy sulking because he's been caught filching the Communion wine...Scorsese and his team have created a heavy-footed golem of a motion picture, hard to ignore as it throws its weight around but fatally lacking in anything resembling soul." --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"...the year's longest and most expensive cinematic deconstructing an age of gangs and war chiefs locked in rampantly criminal rivalries, where everyone is a villain and there is nobody to root for or care about, Mr. Scorsese fails to deliver the necessary cinematic images that explain the times and embody so many clashing points of view with coherence...the movie is all style and no substance. The characters are cutouts from old wanted posters that never come to life. The graphic horrors are repetitive tableaux." --Rex Reed, The New York Observer

"As a piece of visionary historical re-creation, with nary a digital effect in sight, 'Gangs of New York' is stunning...As a dramatic achievement, however, it is not quite so amazing...What we're left with has the patness of a history lesson about our roots and the melting pot and what it means to be an American." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"'Gangs of New York' boasts the year's best film performance by an actor in Daniel Day-Lewis' tremendous incarnation of the anti-hero William 'Bill the Butcher' Cutting...But unfortunately, this muddled epic that attempts to set what is essentially a western in 19th-century New York City, and to combine it with a tendentious, even dishonest history lesson, is in other ways a disappointment...Though a voiceover notes the violence against blacks, the effect as a whole is an egregious revision of history to rank with 'Birth of a Nation'--and unworthy of America's most lauded filmmaker." --Jonathan Foreman, The New York Post