Amsterdam (Comedy, Drama) [Based on True Story] (2022)
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell
Stars: Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie, Taylor Swift
Solving a presumed murder, a couple of friends are framed, uncovering a conspiracy set to change history forever.
Taking place primarily in 1930s New York, David O. Russell presents a loosely-inspired period piece. Known for his tragi-comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" and dark-comedy "American Hustle", the director's career catalogue speaks for itself. Previous announcements had cast Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, both eventually replaced by John David Washington; rumours also stated Jennifer Lawrence was considered to play the role finally filled by Margot Robbie. The film has been produced by Regency Enterprises, New Regency, DreamCrew Entertainment, Keep Your Head Productions and Corazon Camera while distributed by 20th Century Studios and Buena Vista International.
Owning a shifty medical practice for war veterans like himself, Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale) is requested in confidence to perform an autopsy on Senator Bill Meekins (Ed Begley Jr.), formerly his regiment commander. As a favour to his friend Harold (John David Washington), Burt agrees, yet after the autopsy has concluded, a pre-meditated accident frames the pair of Harold and Burt, leading them into a rabbit hole of schemes and shadows.
Lingering around the smoky prohibition-era streets of New York, "Amsterdam" portrays a delirious friendship between Bale's Burt, Washington's Harold, and Robbie's Valerie, effortlessly trying to solve a much-wider crime they're wholly unprepared to settle. While loosely-inspired by actual events, David O. Russell uses this framework as a playground to create his next supposed critically-acclaimed masterpiece.
Stylistic appeal and a myriad of universally beloved actors, including but not limited to—Margot Robbie, Christian Bale, Robert DeNiro and Mike Myers. It's truly a feat and pleasure to see them together, walking a fine line between utter absurdist comedy and crime-driven drama with a hard edge. An accessible film within the setting chosen and undoubtedly to become a popular film among casual moviegoers, which might be precisely what it needs to be considered a commercial success.
In execution, "Amsterdam" regrettably suffers from attention problems; within the running time, there's tons of conversation between Robbie, Bale and Washington, also introducing Rami Malek, Anya Taylor-Joy and again many more. Still, it's baseless—unsteadily shuffling towards the final act in a theatre where the supposed puzzle and coincidental crime are indeed solved to the interest of a mere fly on the wall.
Trying to observe as a positive critic, this overlong declamation of a film has much appeal in the sepia-filtered presentation. Showing mere visual fragments would make one assume the film to be O. Russell's latest "American Hustle", however even Bale's peculiar doctor and somewhat typecast Margot Robbie and Chris Rock cannot make this lame duck float as narratively it dives before learning how to swim.
Like New York, the name "New Amsterdam" didn't stick.