AMSTERDAM movie review

AMSTERDAM is directed by David O. Russell. It stars Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldana, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough, Taylor Swift, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola, Rami Malek, and Robert De Niro.

In the 1930s, three friends are reunited in New York City, following them initially meeting in Europe in the aftermath of World War I – disfigured doctor Burt Berendsen, nurse Valerie Voze, and lawyer Harold Woodsman. The trio finds themselves in the middle of a conspiracy following a murder and a United States Senator’s death under mysterious circumstances. It’s up to them to clear their names, but it quickly becomes clear that bigger elements are in play, including a mysterious organization’s ambitions to take over the United States.

AMSTERDAM is a seriously ambitious film; that’s apparent from the get-go and just looking at the cast list. It also mixes history with an intriguing plot, keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat. But at times it’s too ambitious and doesn’t quite know what tone to take, making the final experience something of a mixed bag. That said, however, there’s enough to merit a recommendation, even if just barely.

I can’t say enough good things about the cast of the film. The core trio of Bale, Robbie, and Washington are, without question, the stars of the show, sharing a wonderful chemistry and coming off as believable friends reunited following a long absence. The supporting cast is no less impressive, including Chris Rock as an old war buddy of our heroes (while the film isn’t a comedy he still manages to get in some comedic moments), Mike Myers as an eccentric undercover agent, Robert De Niro as a major ex-military man, and Anya-Taylor Joy and Rami Malek as Valerie’s siblings. Even Taylor Swift shows up! While the movie does at times struggle to juggle its huge cast, everyone does well with what they’re given.

The film’s ultimate plot and conclusion are based loosely on actual events, which makes the story even more intriguing. It’s an eye-opening experience and quite surprising! Seeing where the plot goes in its third act, even if the movie tries to reach a bit too far at times, will appeal to anyone interested in and fascinated by American history. I won’t go into too many details here, but it’s shocking and quite surprising. The film, likewise, isn’t afraid to show the horrors of wars and their aftermaths.

If there’s one flaw that holds back AMSTERDAM, is that the movie can’t quite agree on its tone. Is this a comedy-drama with old friends reuniting? Is it a whodunit? Is it a conspiracy film that reaches to the highest levels of the United States Government? The movie haphazardly tries to be all three and, while it hits more than it misses, the juggling of the various plotlines does become frustrating at times. Still, the good outweighs the bad.

AMSTERDAM has its flaws, but it’s worth seeing nonetheless. It’s beautifully shot with a great cast and an intriguing storyline. Even if it comes up short in some elements, it’s rarely boring or uninterested. Moderately recommended.


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