To have a film as overstuffed and annoyingly uninteresting as Amsterdam with a cast like Amsterdam is impressive. On paper, it’s more likely that a cast like Amsterdam wins a Best Picture Oscar or a handful of ensemble nods during the awards circuit, but with David O. Russell at the helm writing and directing this shockingly dull flick, I suppose anything is possible – even “Amsterdam” being delivered D.O.A. on HBO Max after a remarkably sad box office run.
And frankly, audiences deserve better than whatever meandering mess David O. Russell decides to serve up on a platter that tries to suck you in with the glamour of its cast; one that rivals any cast in recent film history. Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie, Robert De Niro, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Chris Rock, Mike Myers, Zoe Saldaña and even Taylor Swift all star in this year’s most uninspired, lazy and unfunny mystery.
The cast of Amsterdam is a fever dream for fans of the medium, but it’s possible that the promise of loading these side characters with A-listers was too good to pass up for David O. Russell, who tries to simply get by as he offers up dull and surface-level conversation for over two hours between highly accomplished stars. At some point, you almost become numb to the fact that Russell has collected the best actress or actor of the last five years (Robbie), fifteen years (Bale), and fifty years (De Niro) in a film that doesn’t even deserve one of them.
There’s also quite a bit of baggage to carry into the film regarding David O. Russell and his personal life that is hard to forget as you’re watching. I never want a film to be bad or uninteresting, but it is easy to quickly turn on a film with a few bad scenes when you know the checkered past of its visionary. And to say that Amsterdam has a few bad scenes is an understatement because it starts with them and never lets off the gas.
Reviews for Movies like Amsterdam
The pacing in Amsterdam is astonishingly bad. After a simple hook that fails to bring in the attention of a viewer, Amsterdam sets on a quest to show you 45 minutes of backstory between three rather uninteresting main characters who just happen to be played by Christian Bale, John David Washington and Margot Robbie. The material, like the rest of the film, is not inviting or slightly funny – regardless of how production design and craft try to paint it as otherwise.
The plot of the film attempts t bounce from setting to setting as we follow three longtime friends struggling to crack open a murder-mystery case and meeting this zany cast along the way. Many of the performances, from Rami Malek’s bad-guy persona to Anya Taylor-Joy’s surprisingly energetic delivery, are fun hangs. I struggle to conceptualize a lesser cast trying to piece together what Russell is trying to convey in “Amsterdam” besides empty platitudes of broken individuals and a constant yearning for societal acceptance – both themes he pulls off more successfully in other films before this.
But then the film shifts in its second act (at least it does if you’re still awake) into a conspiracy-injected history drama. Not sure what the film crew and marketing team were thinking with this one because it’s one of the most jaw-droppingly, I can’t believe this is happening but it’s happening, stomach-churningly misguided endings to a film in recent memory. It is as if Russell knew the dull script wouldn’t get by on its own and that he needed to go bigger and bolder in order to get this thing greenlit.
There have been quite a few misfires from major studios this year, but Amsterdam stands with some of the worst ones. I thought quite a bit about Don’t Worry Darling or Bullet Train or Elvis as I watched this, but at least with those films’ simplified scripts, beguiling style, and actual comedy helped elevate beyond the sewers. Unfortunately for the cast of “Amsterdam,” they just weren’t able to pull this one out of that sewer.
Where to stream Amsterdam: VOD
Film Cast and Credits
Christian Bale as Burt Berendsen
Margot Robbie as Valerie Voze
John David Washington as Harold Woodman
Robert De Niro as General Gil Dillenbeck
Anya Taylor-Joy as Libby Voze
Rami Malek as Tom Voze
Chris Rock as Milton King
Zoe Saldaña as Irma St. Clair
Mike Myers as Paul Canterbury
Michael Shannon as Henry Norcross
Timothy Olyphant as Taron Milfax
Andrea Riseborough as Beatrice Vandenheuvel
Taylor Swift as Liz Meekins
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Editor: Jay Cassidy
Composer: Daniel Pemberton
Amsterdam movie on Letterboxd
Amsterdam movie on IMDb