Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
There is nothing quite like a brilliant Ensemble, it can absolutely elevate a film from good to great. A Cast can be the backbone of sustainability with an audience for a film. The Script and direction help the Cast deliver something that is hopefully palatable, but sometimes even with the Cast firing on all cylinders, at least we have their performances if all else fails. Director/Writer David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook. American Hustle) presents audiences with Amsterdam. While there is umch to love audiences to love about this Ensemble, this Period Piece, based loosely on facts, is marred by its convolutedness.
The Film focuses around the mysterious death of one General Bill Meekins (Ed Begley Jr.). His daughter Liz (Taylor Swift) hires doctor Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale) and Attorney Harold Woodman (John David Washington) to perform an autopsy on The General to figure out what exactly happened, as his death was most certainly suspicious. We learn the deceased was Burt and Harold’s General in the war. Burt was brought-in to be the unofficial leader of Harold and Milton King (Chris Rock)’s platoon as Burt was respectful and not concerned about the race and colour of the men defending their country. They became the best of friends and after being injured by an attack from a Shrapnel bomb, they are cared for by Valerie (Margot Robbie). The Trio became inseparable. They make a pact together, to never separate and to always be there for one another. They flee to Amsterdam to live out their lives, but when Burt can no longer handle being apart from his insidious wife Beatrice (Andrea Riseborough), he goes back to New York leaving behind Valerie and Harold. Burt gets himself into some trouble and Valerie and Harold begrudgingly return back to the United States. Twelve years pass, and no one has heard from Valerie, who has seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. Burt and Harold are running a medical office for veterans and trying to do the work no one else wants to do. However, they then get approached by Liz, as previously mentioned, and their lives get turned upside down.
The biggest issue with Amsterdam is that in its two hour and fifteen-minute running time, it takes almost 90 minutes for the Film to reveal itself intention, morphing into something far larger than a Whodunnit. It becomes a blend of fact and fiction, and when the Film’s true intention is uncovered, it becomes far less interesting entry into an already crowded genre.
The A-List Cast including Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Rock, Michael Shannon, Matthias Schoenaerts, Mike Myers, Taylor Swift, Zoe Saldana, Rami Malek and Robert De Niro all deliver some incredible work here and make this all watchable. The chemistry that is shared however between Bale, Robbie and Washington is exquisite, carrying the entire Film. This is the power of Russell – he can command this caliber of a Cast, it’s just unfortunate they don’t have a stronger vehicle to showcase their talent.
20th Century Studios Canada release AMSTERDAM in theatres on Friday, October 7, 2022.