Title – Amsterdam (2022)
Director – David O. Russell (Three Kings)
Cast – Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, Anya Taylor-Joy, Taylor Swift
Plot – In the 1930’s a group of wartime friends, doctor Burt Berendsen (Bale), attorny Harold Woodman (Washington) and free spirit Valerie Voze (Robbie) get caught up in a murder plot as well as a much bigger conspiracy as they look to clear their names and uncover the mystery behind everything before it’s too late.
“Let the love, murder and conspiracy begin”
Review by Eddie on 14/10/2022
Considering the man behind the helm is the multi-Oscar nominated David O. Russell, the cast is one of the most star-studded seen in the last few years and that there’s a budget at play here in the vicinity of $60 million dollars, you’d be right in thinking that the (very loosely) based on a true story Amsterdam was likely to be one of the film events of the year, as well as a major player at the upcoming awards circuit.
Proving once more that that expected shouldn’t always be expected, Amsterdam finds the controversial Russell return to the big screen for the first time since his Jennifer Lawrence starring Joy came and went in 2015 and when you judge this new period set dramedy against the likes of Russell’s biggest (if overrated) hits that were the one-two double header of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, Amsterdam feels like a much more haphazard affair, that may have prestigious production values and a talent filled cast but can’t make us care for what should be a thrilling and darkly funny ride of who did what and why.
It’s hard to pinpoint an exact reason for why Amsterdam just never clicks the way in which it should but as it stands the film feels like a Coen Brothers-lite affair that was in major need of a script overhaul, with Russell too blame for a script that doesn’t give its characters or the incidents they find themselves in the time or material to shine the way in which it might just have done had the stars aligned, with so much of Amsterdam’s happenings feeling like nothing more than passing moments, not engaging content that Russell must have thought it was.
There’s no point denying that some of Amsterdam works, it’s lavishly filmed and the likes of Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and an on-song Robert De Niro all try their best to enliven proceedings that far too often get caught up in subplots and exposition that don’t feel as though they’re adding a great deal of importance to the main case at hand involving a murdered veteran and some major conspiracies, that perhaps didn’t need 134 minutes to sort out.
Full of kooky characters and bizarre situations that undoubtedly would’ve screamed a good time when they were being conjured up in the conception stage, so much of Amsterdam falls flat with a tiny proportion of jokes landing, characters becoming engaging and the lacklustre chemistry and romance narrative involving Robbie’s Valerie and John David Washington’s Harold glaringly unsatisfactory components of a film that promised so much more than it delivered, without ever being a complete write-off.
In amongst these issues Washington’s dry and dull performance is another noteworthy bland turn from the proposed leading man, who outside of Tenet has really failed to justify any reason why he should be landing these type of high-profile roles and when you can’t make sparks happen with the likes of Bale, Robbie or De Niro by your side, it’s unlikely you’re cut out to be considered a performer who should be having Hollywood fight for your services.
Final Say –
In some other universe Amsterdam might just have been the film it wanted to be but as it stands right here and now, David O. Russell’s star-filled experience is nothing more than a distracting diversion that could have been so much more.
2 1/2 glass eyes out of 5