I recently commented on director Ridley Scott’s Spielbergian/Fincheresque creative vicissitude, and here he is just a couple weeks later proving my point. He just started development on the espionage movie Penetration and the Iraq abduction story The Invisible World, but apparently he’s shoving them aside to defibrillate a previously flatlined project.

Scott has now decided to inject some of Dr. West’s luminescent formula into American Gangster, the long-troubled project from manga-haired producer Brian Grazer. The movie (previously known as Tru Blu and The Return of Superfly) collapsed a couple of years ago under the weight of a bloated budget and (speculation!) then-helmer Antoine Fuqua’s brief incarceration in Director Jail for Tears of the Sun and King Arthur. Meanwhile, attached talent Denzel Washington and Benicio Del Toro walked away with heavy pockets thanks to pay-or-play deals.

Hotel Rwanda writer-director Terry George had tried to resuscitate the movie last year, along with a rumor that star Don Cheadle would be joining him. But now it seems like Denzel had a change of heart and returned to the film, and Scott is attempting to lure his bellicose Gladiator star Russell Crowe (who also just finished his wine film A Good Year) to square off against him. The two have already appeared on opposite sides of the law in (giggle) Virtuosity.

The already-costly flick, set in 1970s Harlem, tells the story of a real-life cop trying to take down a notorious drug dealer who imports his heroin in the coffins of soldiers killed in The Nam.