American Hustle might be a tad overrated and certainly director David O. Russell took influence from Martin Scorsese and maybe a bit of Oliver Stone in terms of tone and style, but the movie’s success lies squarely on an all-star cast who mostly give great performances headlined by Christian Bale and Amy Adams.
Genre(s): Drama, Comedy, Crime
Universal Pictures| R – 138 min. – $40.99 | March 18, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.5/5
“The art of survival, is a story that never ends.”
David O. Russell’s crime-drama sports an all-star cast and a script no doubt influenced by any number of Martin Scorsese movies. However, for everything that’s going for American Hustle, it’s a movie that thinks there’s more than what is actually there…
Irving Rosenfeld (CHRISTIAN BALE) is a master conman able to run small operations with ease. His life changes when he meets the lovely Sydney Prosser (AMY ADAMS) who, despite Rosenfeld being 40 lbs overweight and a terrible comb-over/toupee, finds an immediate attraction to Irving and soon enough the pair are in love and he even lets her in on his schemes to which she eagerly offers to participate taking on the persona of a British financier and now the two are able to con people out of thousands of dollars.
But things aren’t all perfect. For one thing, Irving has an unstable wife, Rosalyn (JENNIFER LAWRENCE), at home and a son he adopted as his own whom he cares immensely about. The other problem is, on the professional front, they get caught up in an FBI sting run by Agent Richie DeMaso (BRADLEY COOPER), though because Sydney was the one to take possession of the check, she’s arrested and put under the gun placed in isolation and other questionable tactics.
In order to save her hiney, along with his own, they work with DeMaso to set up undercover stings against corrupt politicians including the charismatic Camden, New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito (JEREMY RENNER) who has been working, with much success, in revitalizing his city and wants to rebuild Atlantic City. The scheme is that he’s to meet with an Arab sheikh who will commit millions of dollars for the construction and in the process Polito and others will receive a kickback to move things along, cutting red tape.
What happens next are potential double crosses, a meeting with a mean mob boss (cameo by ROBERT DE NIRO) and an unexpected friendship between Irving and Carmine which is tested as the noose tightens and the Feebs want results of an ever expanding, and expensive, sting. We also get some dark comedic moments involving Cooper’s DeMaso and his ever abused boss played to perfection by Louis C.K. but because of the stellar cast, he kind of gets lost in the shuffle unfortunately.
American Hustle is filled to brim with talent and brilliant performances from the usual suspects like Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper with Jennifer Lawrence turning in perhaps the most annoying performance and was vastly overrated receiving an Oscar nomination on the coattails of momentum from the others in conjunction with her win on Silver Linings Playbook.
So the biggest problem with this movie isn’t with the actors but instead a screenplay, by Eric Warren Singer (The International, upcoming Splinter Cell adaption) and David O. Russell, and story that takes its time to get off the ground and by the end, even with a clever twist, one has a hard time caring one way or another. Also, the friendship and eventual betrayal aspect, despite the best efforts from Bale and Renner, felt forced and even flat rather than emotional.
Hardly worthy of all the awards attentions it garnered, probably thanks in part to Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle isn’t a bad film at all just one very flawed and overhyped all things considered. The acting from most of the cast, sans Lawrence, is quite good headlined by yet another transformative job from Christian Bale. It might not hold up well in repeat viewings but as a one-time rental, might be worth a watch.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
This release comes with a slick, title embossed, slip cover. Inside is a standard DVD Copy as well as a code to add the movie to your digital library.
The Making of American Hustle (16:35; HD) is a fairly standard behind-the-scenes featurette with the typical EPK interviews with the cast and crew chatting about the story, characters and such.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (22:28; HD) include 11 scenes that were either chopped or removed completely. Nothing here is exceptional and probably was taken out for good reasons.
Previews – The Monuments Men, Inside Llewyn Davis
VIDEO – 4.75/5
The visual style, from cinematographer Linus Sandgren, takes the movie into an orange color especially early on and remains there in many scenes. However, this 1080p high-def transfer, presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio, offers excellent detail levels, natural film grain and a certain pop or flavor that looks amazing even on the smaller screen.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
At first I wasn’t overly impressed with the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track, not so much that it sounded bad, but it was pretty average. However, along with clear dialogue, this lossless track especially kicks in with the well timed 1970s music such as “Live and Let Die” which sounds incredible blaring out each channel with impressive depth.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, American Hustle might be a tad overrated and certainly director David O. Russell took influence from Martin Scorsese and maybe a bit of Oliver Stone in terms of tone and style, but the movie’s success lies squarely on an all-star cast who mostly give great performances headlined by Christian Bale and Amy Adams with Jennifer Lawrence providing the most grating one that I’ve encountered in quite some time. The Blu-ray released by Sony has solid video/audio transfers but the bonus material has much to be desired.