Amsterdam Movie Review

“Amsterdam” is written and directed by the celebrated filmmaker David O. Russell (Three Kings, American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook). Going in with this in mind might set your expectations a little high. Lower them some to enjoy the film more.


Also, make sure you stretch your legs before watching because, for over two hours, you’ll find yourself clambering to decipher what’s happening in several different storylines, all playing out at once. Releasing a film in a more linear fashion is so yesterday, am I right? Some unnecessary characters and situations could have been left out to shorten the time for you. But saying that, I can’t help but wonder what fell to the cutting room floor. Editing is essential to a film’s success. Jay Cassidy, the editor of this film, who has worked on films such as “Foxcatcher,” “Fury,” and the Lady Gaga version of “A Star is Born,” does seem to know what he’s doing in that department. He has worked with David O. Russell on some of his most significant projects, so I think it’s safe to say the editing issues aren’t his doing. And I don’t want you to get the impression this is a bad film. It isn’t, but it is far from perfect.


What seems to have happened here is that there are way too many characters and so much to say that Russell finds himself in a pickle. He’s trying to tell a good story with too little time to deliver his complete directive before leaving his audience wandering out in the cold.


The terrifying ending sends a clear message to us all that we must be careful who and what we trust… especially when it comes to the government. Out of nowhere, unless you remember the title card from the very start that read, “Most of this actually happened,” how the filmmaker feels politically is made quite clear… in the film’s final quarter. The audience is looking for a whodunit type film, a comedic murder mystery, not a political message, so it can confuse. Also, I’m not sure enough people will fully understand what’s being said.


Regardless, with what Russell has to say about racism, white supremacy and how fragile democracy is, is a warning. What he’s telling us now makes this an important film. Unfortunately, the manner in which it’s conveyed is where it falls short. Perhaps a more explicit start would have helped. It’s a shame Russell couldn’t have focused his energy throughout, maintaining balance, awakening and enticing the imagination of all who watch. Trust me, you will see a murder mystery where Liz Meekins (Swift) hires Burt (Bale) and Harold (Washington) to find out who killed her father. That’s just one storyline in a lineup of too many in the film.

As you observe, you just might come to the conclusion that every actor you’ve ever seen in a movie is in this one! The cast is enormous but good in their roles. It’s the cast that saves this from being too chaotic because you can rely on them to keep some kind of order, but it’s not enough. As it is, I felt as if I was watching a puzzle being both put together and taken apart simultaneously. It’s awful to see how a nation can emulate Mussolini right under the noses of its citizens. You don’t see this coming.


Basically, “Amsterdam” doesn’t exactly know the type of film it wants to be and takes far too long to get you to the end, much like this review. There are some graphic images that startle, fitting for the dramatic thriller it’s supposed to be, but far from funny. I say see the movie because when you put it all together, it can be a provocative tale to study. That notwithstanding, it’s a cable watch for sure… where this would have made a much better limited series.


Director: David O. Russell
Screenplay: David O. Russell
Starring: Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldaña


Rated: R (Bloody Images|Brief Violence)
Runtime: 2h 14m
Genres: Comedy, Crime, Drama,

20th Century Studios, New Regency

Producers: David O. Russell, Christian Bale, Matthew Budman, Arnon Milchan, Anthony Katagas


Rating contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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