In this film, the camera decides to concentrate on faces, so everyone has a moment. So many characters, so many moments.

Stars: Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldana, Michael Shannon, Taylor Swift, Rami Malek, Robert De Niro and Ed Begley, Jr.
Director/Scriptwriter: David Russell
Composer: Daniel Pemberton
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Regency Enterprises/20th Century Studios
Rating: PG-13
Running Length: 135 Minutes 

The city of Amsterdam is filled with canals that wind their way through the area. Going from one place to another can be intricate including walking, biking and boating.  Such is the plot of David O. Russell’s latest film, “Amsterdam.”  One of Russell’s past films was “Silver Linings Playbook.” You eventually get to the main point, but way of several plots. There is the beginning of the film to set the characters, then years ahead as to what they are doing, and then what happens when the bad guys show up. Actually, this is based on a true story. The time period goes from the end of WWI to the beginning of WWII. There is a bizarre sense of humor here, too, including how one person meets their fate, why the glass eye of another won’t stay put and people singing ” Nonsense Song.” This is not a cohesive plot. 

We begin with WWI and Burt (Christian Bale from “Thor: Love and Thunder.”) who meets Harold (John David Washington from “Tenet”) and they become lifelong friends. A third friend is their nurse, Valerie (Margot Robbie from “Suicide Squad”), who cared for their war injuries.   Eventually, the men leave and go to Amsterdam to make a new life. Soon, Burt decides to go back to the States. Harold follows and goes to New York City to make his fortune. Valerie goes her own way for a time. Years pass, and Burt is now a medical doctor while Harold is an attorney.  They are friends with a Senator (Ed Begley, Jr. from” Better Call Saul”) who is missing and his daughter. Elizabeth (Taylor Swift) wants to find out what happened.  It is at this point that there are spies around, and bad guys called The Council of Five who want to take down the U.S. President and put in a General (Robert De Niro from “The Irishman.”) as leader. All in a little over two hours. 

Confusing as it can be, there are moments of dry humor in the film (Christian Bale and his glass eye) for example. The cast is large  and just about anyone who could read a script is there. With so many speaking, it is hard to keep track and as a result, the so-called plot is pushed to the sideline for a star’s moment on the screen. There did not seem to be any fun here. The unexpected just happens.   

Acting is well done, though, with Christian Bale, known for action parts, doing humor with a glass eye. Chris Rock is there, and the interactions between John David Washington, Margot Robbie and Christian Bale are good. Touches of the unusual are present, such as Valerie, not only being a nurse, but also an artist who collects bullets and shrapnel for art work. Never mind the blood.  

In this film, the camera decides to concentrate on faces, so everyone has a moment. So many characters, so many moments. The audience almost needs a notebook to keep track. Taylor Swift, for example is there….and then, isn’t. It is a film that reminds me of “The French Dispatch,” in that there are segments and then more segments. Not all to your liking, but in the end, it more or less  meshes. “Amsterdam” shows you what the city is like, but the inhabitants fade into the background at times. 


Copyright 2022 Marie Asner