Star Studded Movie May Be a Flop

A review of David O. Russell’s Amsterdam

If I had a nickel for every murder mystery that released in theaters in 2022; I’d have at least three nickels. Which isn’t a terribly high amount, but it is more than I initially expected. And while David O. Russell’s eccentric caper does distinguish itself from the others, there are still elements to it that hold it back from being better than the pack. 

So what’s the deal with Amsterdam? Trying to explain the plot of this film is like trying to block a dunk from a prime Shaquille O’Neal. It’s very difficult, but here’s my best attempt at doing so. The film follows a trio of close-knit friends played by Christian Bale, John David Washington, and Margot Robbie as they try their best to clear their names of a murder they’ve been framed for. Along the way they meet and consult with a plethora of colorful characters and as the story progresses the group slowly, in the truest sense of the word, realize they’ve gotten wrapped up in something immensely bigger than themselves. 

Sounds about par for the course right? And for the most part it is, but it’s the odd and off-kilter nature of the film that defines it. Russell brings forth a tone and style that’s relatively laid-back and I found it to work both for and against the film. On one end I did enjoy the film’s lightheartedness especially in contrast to some of the more serious aspects of its story. On a more noticeable end though; it’s precisely the laxed nature of the film that leaves it feeling a bit lengthy and a little aimless. 

The film is in absolutely no rush at all. It’s on one of those leisurely old man strolls. Casually sauntering by; not particularly concerned with how engrossed the audience is in it. Certain scenes go on for much longer than expected and the pacing suffers because of this. In that regard, I completely understand one’s complaints about the film being boring, uninteresting, or incohesive. I, for one, never felt that way myself and I’d say the biggest reason as to why comes down to the casting. 

To say the cast of this film is stacked would be an understatement and a half. In addition to the three leads mentioned previously; the film boasts a stellar supporting cast featuring Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, Christopher Rock, Zoe Saldana, Anya Taylor-Joy, a double dose of Michaels with both Mike Myers and Michael Shannon, and T-Swizzle (Taylor Swift. Check out the Thug Story music video if you’re unfamiliar) is even in it for a whole six minutes. They all perform relatively well, but the film’s tone doesn’t lend itself to being the best avenue for the cast to showcase their talents. Even still, I thought it a treat just seeing everyone interact with each other in the quirky, nonchalant world the film crafts. It also helps that I found the film to be much funnier than I had anticipated. It’s not exactly a gut buster per se, but I did thoroughly appreciate the subtlety of many of its jokes. 

After taking everything into consideration; I found this movie to be one I personally like more than I think it’s good. There’s still a lot to enjoy, but the lack of a clear narrative combined with some shoddy pacing prevent me from giving it anything higher than 82%. 

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