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Amsterdam (15)

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, John David Washington, Mike Myers, Rami Malek, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Shannon, Robert De Niro, Margot Robbie, Christian Bale
Genre: Comedy
Author(s): David O Russell
Director: David O Russell
Release Date: 07/10/2022
Running Time: 134mins
Country: US
Year: 2022

In the 1930s as the Nazi party begins to cast a long shadow over Europe, unconventional doctor Burt Berendsen, lawyer pal Harold Woodman and nurse Valerie are implicated in a murder and set out to clear their names. In the process, the trio stumble upon a shadowy plot involving General Gil Dillenbeck that could fatally undermine American democracy and world peace.


LondonNet Film Review

Amsterdam (15) Film Review from LondonNet

In an early scene from writer-director David O Russell’s unevenly paced comedy, Christian Bale’s quixotic war veteran with a back brace and glass eye stares playfully into the camera and pleads, “Do me a favour, try to be optimistic”. I obliged but ultimately ran out of patience with Amsterdam, which draws inspiration from a real-life political conspiracy to engineer a madcap murder mystery in pre-Second World War America and Europe as the Nazi party casts a long shadow over global affairs…

Blessed with a starry cast that includes Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Zoe Saldana and Robert De Niro, this lavishly staged caper jitterbugs before our eyes thanks to flawless production design and costumes, and the luxurious lensing of Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who won three consecutive Academy Awards for his work on Gravity, Birdman and The Revenant. Unfortunately, Russell’s script repeatedly stumbles with pointless narrative diversions and jarring shifts in tone.

The unnecessary 134-minute running time is a gruelling tour of duty. Russell has an enviable track record at the Oscars, guiding actors to multiple nominations and deserved wins for Bale and Melissa Leo (both for The Fighter) and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook). It’s highly unlikely he’ll repeat the streak with Amsterdam. Going Dutch has been his undoing.

Doctor Burt Berendsen (Bale) and lawyer pal Harold Woodman (Washington), who fought side by side in the 369th Infantry Regiment during the First World War, are contacted by Elizabeth Meekins (Taylor Swift), daughter of their former army chief. General Bill Meekins (Ed Begley Jr) has recently passed away and Elizabeth is convinced her father’s death was the result of foul play. Burt and colleague Irma St Clair (Saldana) hurriedly perform a post-mortem examination to confirm Elizabeth’s dark suspicion.

Soon after, Burt and Harold are falsely implicated in a murder and the fugitives resolve to clear their name, aided by pipe-smoking nurse Valerie Voze (Robbie), who tended their wounds in 1918. The trio stumble upon a shadowy plot involving General Gil Dillenbeck (Robert De Niro) that could fatally compromise the presidency of Franklin D Roosevelt. MI6 operative Paul Canterbury (Mike Myers) and counterpart Henry Norcross (Michael Shannon) provide invaluable support as Burt, Harold and Valerie gather evidence of underhand dealings and continue to disappoint their loved ones, namely Burt’s snooty wife Beatrice (Andrea Riseborough) and Valerie’s oddball siblings Tom and Libby (Rami Malek, Anya Taylor-Joy).

Amsterdam incorporates archive footage during the end credits to bolster its impish assertion that “a lot of this really happened”. Russell’s dull, laboured art marries freewheeling screwball comedy to a timely reminder of the fragility of American democracy. If there is a punchline (not counting Taylor Swift’s abrupt exit), it goes missing in a pedestrian final edit that makes unscalable mountains out of political molehills.

– Jo Planter


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