It’s been since 2015 since we got our last film from director David O Russell due to multiple reasons the studio he would frequently collaborate with was sold and in transition, the history of abuse actors such as George Clooney and Amy Adams has alleged against David and the director was caught up in the Me too era marred by his own assault and abuse claims made by his own niece. Still, with all that put up against him, frequent collaborators and others have teamed up with the director to join in his latest historical ensemble piece.
Amsterdam follows three friends Burt (Christian Bale), Valerie (Margot Robbie), and Harold (John David Washington) whose paths cross while they are fighting in the war. As time passes their paths cross again back home in America when they suddenly get mixed up in a high-profile murder of which they get accused.
David usually gives a deep dive into the character’s backgrounds, what makes them tick and how they are wired. It’s a character study, in the case of this film there are three leads so it has to be spread out but it seems the script is spread out too thin. The character of Burt has a lot of detail to him and is explored the best you become empathetic towards him and all his struggles in his journey to be loved, learning that he deserves love. But the other two leads Valerie and Harold don’t get the same treatment. They try to keep Valerie the mysterious character but the intrigue fades quickly and she doesn’t really have many layers to her and it fizzles rather quickly. As for Harold, his character is simply there to play the straight man to Burt, but apart from that, there isn’t much to him.
With the ensemble cast you don’t expect to get much time with everyone but many of them come across as two-dimensional. General Gil (Robert De Niro) and Milt (Chris Rock) give really good character performances, they feel authentic and push the story forward toward the third act. General Gil adds to the backstory of Burt and Harold and provides great insight into the third act along with military generals who play good foils. Milt adds to the backstory of Harold and his service days to current-day law practice accompanied by Rock’s good performance.
Apart from the three leading performances and the two supporting characters mentioned earlier, the positives stop there. The rest of the notable characters feel like caricatures of their portrayal, characters like Tom Voze (Rami Malik) and Libby Voze (Anya Taylor Joy) they feel as two-dimensional as it gets, pretty much mustache-twirling villains. That simply comes down to the script, it lacks in nearly every department overstuffed, doesn’t know what it wants to be and lack of development for many characters. O Russell seems to be all over the place with this one at times it a war movie, at times its a muderer mystery and other times it tries to be a social commentary but for the most part it falls short in each.
Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington deliever what is the best parts of the film their humor, connection and friendship is when its at its best, they truly feel like a friend forged for a while. But that where the positives end the film is overall stuffed, goes all over the place and truly doesn’t know what it wants to be. David O Russell’s script is lacking in many departments, there’s alot going on its just an overall mess with very few redeming qualities.