The Reel Review
Three friends dating back to World War I go on the run when falsely accused of a murder, in this 1930s-era crime mystery starring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington. While trying to bring the actual killer to justice, they uncover a sinister right-wing plot to overthrow the government. Amsterdam is based on a true story.
What in the Hell is going on here? That is the question you’ll be asking yourself throughout much of this bloated, more than two-hour-long film – particularly in its first half. Even with an all-star cast including Robert De Niro, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Michael Shannon, Mike Myers, Chris Rock, Andrea Riseborough and a very stiff Taylor Swift, writer/director David O. Russell’s historical dramedy is little more than a series of pointless, overlong vignettes. This is not the Oscar-nominated Russell of Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, or The Fighter – or even 2015’s Joy, his most recent prior film. This is a tedious mess.
The only real upside of this epically dull film is the sepia-toned visuals, excellent costuming and set design that capture the era. Beyond that, Amsterdam and its well-intended cautionary tale about the dangers of capitalist-fueled authoritarianism is a self-indulgent waste of time.
• Amsterdam was inspired by the Business Plot, a 1933 political conspiracy in which wealthy American businessmen and bankers plotted a military coup d’état to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt and replace him with a fascist veterans’ organization headed by U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler. None of them was ever prosecuted.
• John David Washington replaced Michael B. Jordan in the film after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a year long delay in filming.
• Amsterdam was a box office bomb, losing Disney nearly $100 million.
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