20th Century Studios

Written by David O. Russell

Directed by David O. Russell

Starring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Taylor Swift, Michael Shannon, Mike Myers, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Andrea Riseborough and Robert DeNiro

Rated R

In the 1930s, three friends witness a murder, are framed for it, and uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American history.

I love mysteries. I love murder mysteries. I love screwball comedies. I love buddy comedies. David O. Russell’s latest film tries to combine all of those elements with a film loosely based on the Business Plot of the early 1930’s. A plot that is an interesting enough premise on its own to garner a film, but like almost everything in this movie it seemingly comes out of nowhere and is clumsily executed.

(L-R): Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington in 20th Century Studios’ AMSTERDAM. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The movie begins interestingly enough with Bale’s narration as he introduces his quirky character along with that of his friend Harold and the world they exist in. There are some fun and funny moments between the two of them and I like the chemistry between Bale and Washington. They have an interesting rapport with Washington being the anchor for Bale’s quirky and over the top character. The addition of Margot Robbie’s Valerie to the group helps round out the dynamic and it would be great if they had more engaging material to work with.

Christian Bale as Burt, Margot Robbie as Valerie, and John David Washington as Harold in 20th Century Studios’ AMSTERDAM. Photo by Merie Weismiller. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Things quickly spiral out of control when Bale and Washington are brought in to investigate the death of someone they knew from the war and their investigation results in a murder and the pair of them being accused of the crime. Shuffled in between are the circumstances of how they met, their time in Amsterdam and how one of them leaving destroys their friendship. All great premises that get destroyed by Russell’s need to be more clever than the audience and not really succeeding.

(L-R): John David Washington as Harold, Margot Robbie as Valerie, Rami Malek as Tom, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Libby in 20th Century Studios’ AMSTERDAM. Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace; SMPSP. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

The murder mystery gets folded into a bigger plot that takes so long to unfold, it can’t possibly be satisfying when revealed. Along the way, more and more wacky characters are introduced seemingly from nowhere and find their way into the bigger plot for reasons that make no sense. Rami Malek and Anya Taylor-Joy arrive in the film as relatives of Robbie’s character and there is an attempt to make Malek’s character seem like a possible villain, but he doesn’t pull it off both in the story and especially in its conclusion.

(L-R): Anya Taylor-Joy as Libby, Rami Malek as Tom, Christian Bale as Burt, Robert De Niro as Gil, and Margot Robbie as Valerie in 20th Century Studios’ AMSTERDAM. Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace; SMPSP. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

DeNiro is brought into the film as the target for the main characters to locate and his performance is the only one that seems to have some level of presence. So he usually ends up standing stone faced in the corner while the other characters mug for the camera and deliver nonsensical lines that go nowhere. Every wasted plot point and character moment gets dragged to a finale that not only makes little to know sense, but is completely unsatisfying in its attempts at relevancy, irony and humor.

Amsterdam is a nonsensical, incoherent, pretentious mess that tries so hard to be clever and misses on every mark. You would think with a cast this stacked with talent that something watchable could be salvaged from Russell’s heavy handed direction and stale writing, but it isn’t. Definitely an experience that never needs to be repeated.




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