Bland and Disappointing: A Review of David O. Russell’s “Amsterdam”
The Initial Hype and the Great cast
When I first watched David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” in 2013, I was absolutely enthralled. With a star-studded cast including Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, and a captivating storyline, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the film. However, upon rewatching it, I began to question what had initially attracted me to it. Perhaps it was the excitement of the first watch that had clouded my judgment. With that in mind, I entered the theater to watch O. Russell’s latest film, “Amsterdam,” with the intention of reviewing it objectively, separate from the director’s controversies. Unfortunately, my hopes for a decent film were shattered as “Amsterdam” turned out to be a mess of epic proportions right from the start.
The Plot and Characters
“Amsterdam” revolves around three World War I veteran friends: Bert Berendsen (played by Christian Bale), Valerie Voze (played by Margot Robbie), and Harold Woodsman (played by John David Washington). In 1933, these friends find themselves as prime suspects in a murder case, embarking on a journey to clear their names. The performances of Bale, Robbie, and Washington help elevate the material, with each actor bringing their unique quirks and arcs to life. The chemistry between Washington and Robbie is unexpected but delightful, adding a sweet romantic subplot to the film. Meanwhile, Bale’s character serves as the charming third wheel, loved just as much by his friends. The dynamic between the three leads, combined with the intriguing mystery element, sets “Amsterdam” apart from other films in this genre.
Impressive Production Design and Costume
One aspect of “Amsterdam” that deserves praise is its production design, which effectively transports the audience back to the 1930s. The detailed costumes worn by the cast add vibrancy to the film, making each character visually captivating. The attention to detail in both production design and costume contributes to the overall aesthetic appeal of the movie.
The Misleading Trailers
However, the marketing of “Amsterdam” is misleading. The trailers present the film as a straightforward whodunit mystery, but in reality, it is more of a thriller with elements of a larger mystery. This disconnect between expectations and actual content creates a negative experience for the audience. It is a shame that the film was marketed in such a way, as it detracts from the film’s true narrative and leads to disappointment for viewers.
A Mess of Different Elements
One of the major flaws of “Amsterdam” is its mishmash of different elements that fail to come together cohesively. The constant exposition, delivered mainly through celebrity cameos, disrupts the flow of the story and feels more like a lecture than a film. The comedy, intended to provide relief, falls short of expectations. While the performances of Bale, Robbie, and Washington do elicit some laughter, the funniest moment actually comes from a surprising cameo by Taylor Swift. Although Swift’s character may not have had much substance, her performance manages to inject humor into the film.
The Strength of the Leads
Despite its flaws, “Amsterdam” manages to hold some appeal through the performances of its three leads. The arcs of Bert, Valerie, and Harold are satisfying to watch, and their dynamic and chemistry create a genuine connection that engages the audience. Learning about their characters and witnessing their friendship unfold becomes the highlight of the film, surpassing the resolution of the mystery itself. If only the film had focused more on developing these characters rather than bombarding the audience with excessive exposition.
A Lack of Clear Vision
“Amsterdam” attempts to address various themes and ideas but lacks a clear vision in conveying them. The film tries to make a profound statement through its history lesson elements, but the execution falls flat. The overwhelming amount of exposition and disconnected storytelling take away from what could have been a more impactful message. As a result, “Amsterdam” struggles to find its identity and becomes a confusing mix of elements that never quite come together.
A Predictable Resolution
The resolution to the murder mystery in “Amsterdam” is disappointingly obvious and lacks the impact it should have had. Unless you are exceptionally slow in connecting the dots, the culprits become evident early on in the film. This predictability further undermines the overall enjoyment and leaves the audience with a sense of missed opportunities.
In conclusion, “Amsterdam” falls short of its potential due to David O. Russell’s writing and direction. While the lead performances by Bale, Robbie, and Washington salvage some elements of the film, the excessive exposition and lackluster resolution make for a frustrating viewing experience. The misleading marketing further adds to the disappointment. However, the production design and costumes, along with the chemistry between the leads, manage to provide some moments of enjoyment.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is “Amsterdam” worth watching despite its flaws?
While “Amsterdam” has its share of flaws, the performances of Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington, as well as the impressive production design, make it worth a watch for fans of the actors or those interested in the time period.
2. How does “Amsterdam” compare to David O. Russell’s previous works?
“Amsterdam” falls short compared to some of O. Russell’s previous films like “American Hustle.” It lacks the same level of storytelling and fails to deliver a cohesive narrative. However, the performances of the lead actors still manage to shine through.
3. Is the mystery aspect of “Amsterdam” engaging?
Unfortunately, the mystery aspect of “Amsterdam” is not particularly engaging. It lacks the suspense and intrigue one would expect from a film in this genre, making it a disappointment for fans of thrilling mysteries.
4. How would you describe the overall tone of “Amsterdam”?
The overall tone of “Amsterdam” is a mix of comedy and drama, with elements of thriller and historical fiction. While the film attempts to balance these different tones, it struggles to find a cohesive rhythm, resulting in a disjointed viewing experience.
5. Does “Amsterdam” have any redeeming qualities?
Despite its flaws, “Amsterdam” does have redeeming qualities, particularly in the performances of its lead actors and the attention to detail in production design. These elements, along with the chemistry between the characters, add some charm to an otherwise disappointing film.