David O. Russell…David O. Russell films…what can be said? The American director, writer and producer’s films tend toward the dark and intense. But you can almost put money on it that his films are going to be highly watchable. His IMDb roster is filled with films like Three Kings, Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, and American Hustle. Impressive, no? Up to this point his only flop, which he directed under the pseudonym Stephen Greene, was the film Nailed. Up until now…
Amsterdam is a toss-up. I mean, as to whether it is a good film or not. There are moments…then there are others. You get some very talented actors/actresses like Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Alessandro Nivola, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Robert De Niro, and Anya Taylor-Joy. Oh, and Taylor Swift, Mike Myers, Ed Begley Jr., and Chris Rock. Huge cast all competing for screen time.
The story is not a straightforward one. Nuanced and layered. Don’t be distracted as you have to pay attention to get all that is going on. It is partly made up and partly based on actual events. Actual events that you will not believe actually went on. This means that you spend the entire film wanting to know how things are going to resolve themselves. So you are invested.
What does trip things up is the terrible pacing. The only person to blame for this is the director. Amsterdam begins all fun and quirky then it slows down to almost a halt. Just totally loses all the momentum it had built up. I really cannot figure out what the whole flashback was about or what its purpose was in Russell’s mind. Then it kicks into high gear again for the finale. Just wade through the middle part and hopefully the beginning and end will make you forget it.
It is the 1930s and two friends are in the wrong place at the wrong time. They witness a murder. That is where it all just begins. Soon they are embroiled in one of the craziest plots in American history. Oh, and they become three friends as they investigate the murder. Which is actually part of something bigger.
A secret plot. Murder and conspiracy make for plenty of ups and downs, zigs and zags. What can be said about a plot involving a coup meant to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt? This involves plenty of rich businessmen and bankers and those three friends – Valerie Voze (Margot Robbie – I, Tonya, Suicide Squad), Harold Woodman (John David Washington – Tenet, Malcolm & Marie) and Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale – The Dark Knight, American Psycho) – try to figure out what is going on and how they can clear their names.
-Welcome to Amsterdam