April 26th, 2014

AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013) ***

Christian Bale and Amy Adams are two con artists who get picked up by an FBI agent played by Bradley Cooper. He says he’ll look over their previous illegal activity if they help him entrap a bunch of politicians taking bribes. With their backs against the wall, they have no choice but to go through with it. Things get complicated though when Bale befriends one of the politicians (Jeremy Renner) and his boozy wife (Jennifer Lawrence) stars schmoozing with the Mob.

Directed by David O. Russell, American Hustle kinda goes overboard with trying to make the ‘70s look as goofy as possible. The hair, clothes, and make-up choices were pretty extreme; almost as if Russell was trying to make a mix tape of all the worst things about the decade. But somewhere along the way, he spent too much time upping the kitsch factor when he should’ve been working on another draft of the script. And while Bale and Adams’ final sting on Cooper works, much of the assorted conning and wheeling and dealing in the film falls a bit flat. The flick is also a bit too long, but it’s fairly entertaining throughout.

The reason the film works so well is because of the performances. Bale is excellent and the physical transformation he went through (including gaining forty pounds) is pretty impressive. Adams is a lot of fun to watch and Cooper gets some good moments as the self-absorbed Fed. Lawrence is pretty grating, but that’s mostly because her character is so obnoxious; a real testament to her talent.

And while the flick isn’t perfect by a long shot, it’s hard not to like a movie that features Batman, Lois Lane, Rocket Raccoon, Hawkeye, and Mystique.