Discover more from The Mendez Movie Report
Quick Review: Amsterdam
Let The Love, Murder, And Conspiracy Begin
The following is my review for the film Amsterdam A reminder, you can click this link to see how I grade films when I review them.
In the thirties, three friends - a doctor, a nurse, and an attorney - witness a murder, become suspects themselves, and uncover one of the most outrageous plots in North American history.
It feels like forever ago when Amsterdam, David O. Russell’s next directing project was slated to be a major player in the 2020 to 2021 awards season before it got delayed for this awards season instead. And it also feels like forever ago since O. Russel directed a movie that I adored a decade back in Silver Linings Playbook. Perhaps the critical and financial success he achieved with that movie could be duplicated again with his latest? After all, dopes like me thought this had Best Picture potential.
Well that was until O. Russell’s history of being a prick (Seriously click the link I’ve provided, its not pretty) became a major focus, and rumors swirled around that Amsterdam was rejected from premiering at any of the festivals leading the studio to try out their own world premiere in New York during the middle of that city’s iconic fall film festival.
The movie garnered negative reviews from critics and a mediocre audience reception, not to mention an all-time box office flop status for O. Russell. But finally getting around to it myself, what did I think? Well to be honest I kinda’ liked it for the most part. Its hard not to wonder if O. Russell’s personal behavior affected reviews of the movie, but I can see the glaring faults it has even as someone who' finds himself on the positive camp.
The biggest strength this movie has is its big, grand ensemble which includes the likes of Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie, Anya-Taylor Joy, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Robert DeNiro, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock, Timothy Olyphant, Ed Begley Jr, Andrea Riseborough, and Taylor Swift among plenty others. The performances, especially Bale, are all quirky and fun in the way the script and story called them to be. Its like they’re all single-handily trying to elevate themselves over the weak links of the movie.
The film also boasts some nice cinematography, great production and costumes designs, and some impressive practical effects. I also would be lying if I didn’t find myself being endeared to some of our protagonists, and I did find the comedic moments to be more funny than not.
Where the movie undoubtedly falters though is its screenplay. It feels like it needed one big polishing up, re-arrangement of certain scenes, and some cuts to make this into a more tighter and solid story to tell. There’s flashbacks that feel unneeded, there’s scenes that run too long, and there’s questionable gags that should’ve been on the cutting room floor given how they unnecessarily slow down the film here and there, leading to it having that all-too-common problem of being overlong and a bit bloated.
David O. Russel is a crappy human being, I can admit that even while adoring some of his past work. He should be shun more for his problematic behavior than he is. But if you’re asking me to take Amsterdam as a separate piece of art, away from the artist, I’d tell you this was enjoyable enough but it makes some frustrating decisions that gets in the way of itself of becoming something truly special. This could’ve been the awards contender many thought it could have been had there just been a script doctor with a glass eye around to prop it up.