Set in the 1930s, Amsterdam is a crime thriller brought to the screen by BAFTA award-winning writer and director David O Russell. The feature was created over the course of five years with the writers, producers and the actors themselves, culminating in a complex love story centred around a heinous murder plot.
Three unlikely friends – a doctor, Burt (Christian Bale), a nurse, Valerie (Margot Robbie) and an attorney, Harold (John David Washington) – are asked by Liz Meekins (Taylor Swift) to look into the potentially suspicious death of her father. After voicing her growing misgivings, she succumbs to tragedy herself, triggering a chain of events that point the finger at the trio. Aiming to gather some perspective, they then head for a jaunt to Amsterdam, where they frolic in the city before making a pact “to protect each other, no matter what”, setting out to prove their innocence and unearth the truth behind the murder.
The cast is an accumulation of jaw-dropping A-listers that should make this film a triumph. Yet, with all the best intentions, the script seems flighty and packed with philosophical ramblings that don’t seem to have any purpose. Robbie is beautiful in her role as Valerie, and easily adjusts to play the eccentricities of a nurse who collects shrapnel from war wounds to make quirky art pieces. However, her part feels a little bit vacuous at times, especially when she repeats the word Amsterdam to the camera like there’s a deeper layer that the audience might have missed. Even her budding romance with Harold (Washington) ripples along with minimal on-screen chemistry.
Bale is astonishing as Burt, with great comic timing and the sense that the seasoned actor is giving everything to this part. Then there’s Remi Malik (as Tom) and Anna Taylor-Joy as his partner, Libby. This pairing should be explosive, but they manage to ham things up like attendees at a nonsensical murder mystery party. Robert De Niro also appears as the murdered man’s close acquaintance, Gil, who sits smirking in a chair stroking his beloved dog on his lap, and one begins to wonder if the scene has suddenly been swapped with Meet the Parents.
The cinematography driven by Emmanuel Lubezki is lustrous; the warmer tones bring a sense of authenticity to the era it’s set in, and the musical score (which includes input from Drake) helps move the story along. However, it sadly feels like a case of an oversaturated A-list cast prevailing over content.
Amsterdam is released nationwide on 7th September 2022.
Watch the trailer for Amsterdam here: