Throughout life there are plenty of times where we have been cheated, conned into donating money, answering a questionnaire, or like the Rugrats getting tricked into doing things that are not approved. Yet despite the negative consequences that come from being played, we all love to watch characters, both young and old, get fooled into doing something just for mere entertainment. This introduction brings me to the second movie I reviewed today, one that centers on a team who cons people for a living only to get pulled into something bigger. My second review is on American Hustle, the newest Crime/Drama to storm the silver screen.
When you see the trailers for this movie, most of you will probably focus on the all-star cast. Christian Bale leads the cast as Irving Rosenfield, trading his utility belt and state of the art suit for a bad comb over and a beer belly. Costume transition aside, Bale does an amazing job again, channeling the spirit of the conman in all his actions, mannerisms, and voice, which wasn’t the gruff batman voice that fooled all of Gotham. Bale’s character is clever, suave, and smart integrating all the pieces of his stories, and planning his next moves to accomplish his goals of scamming. Yet, despite his devilish side, Bale also has a more vulnerable side as well, weaknesses that anyone will exploit to manipulate him. Irving is a balanced character, and well developed to drive the story and the suspense.
The leading lady Amy Adams is our next star, and the beautiful redhead adds another successful role to her belt as Sydney. Sydney is like the Bella of American Hustle, just with more emotion, action, and pretty much likeability. Sydney’s quite a con artist herself, but her backstory explains a little more as to why she cheats the public. One thing that surprised me though, was Adams’ provocative side comes out not only in action, but in costume as well, can we add her to the list of We Saw Your Boobs?” Yet Adams’ character, like most in the movie, eventually gets pathetic to me. Caught so far in their lies and emotions that they soon became as indecisive as the awkward girl from Forks who can’t decide between werewolf and vampire. At one point it’s endearing and adds another level, but two hours and fifteen minutes of it got annoying.
Acting as the rival to Irving is Richie (Bradley Cooper), the federal agent who has the motivation to go the distance and bust crime, just like a certain caped crusader. Coincidence? I think not. Despite the lack of gadgets, Richie is pretty good at sniffing out crime, and catching Irving and Sydney in the act thus leading to the story. Cooper, despite looking like a Brady Bunch reject, fit well into the part of an eager, justice filled cop. Coopers blue eyes that continue to swoon the ladies, mirrors his hope, and continues to portray his emotions. Although a bit overzealous with the yelling, and cursing as well, Cooper does a good job with his character and manages to transition through Richie’s emotions without much difficulty. Love, obsession, cockiness, and many other human characteristics are all wrapped in this package, and provide a counter balance to Irving’s cool demeanor.
Of course the current uprising star Jennifer Lawrence is also high on many of my friend’s lists. Lawrence plays a different game in this movie, trading in firing arrows and dodging traps, for passive aggressive schmoozing and alcohol infused rants. While not as iconic as her other roles, Lawrence still pulls out all the stops to bring the pathetic concubine to life, and still maintaining that strong will all her characters have. Yet for me, I wasn’t a big fan of this character as I was her others.
While the acting was definitely one of the biggest strengths of the movie, there are plenty of other qualities that made this movie shine. For one thing the integration of all these characters, along with a plethora of others, was well done, keeping everyone in the grand picture without forcing them in some out of context manner. All characters had some integral part, whether it is in opposition to the plan, a thorn in the romantic side, or a pawn in Irving’s clever game of lies as they went for the goal. Each of the characters, including most of the extras, evolves as the film progresses, never straying too far from their initial motives, but still getting a few blows to their lives.
Speaking of the goal, another big strength was the goal was always changing. At first it’s nothing more than Irving and Sydney just making a living, each scam another step to having a successful life About thirty minutes into the film though, that goal sets down another path that soon diverges into many tales. These subplots are not just focused on the grand scheme of the ultimate con, but instead focuses on the different aspects of each character, all tied to the art of scamming. Love, family, friendship, and pride are all thrown into the fray, as each relationship forms faces the test of loyalty as desires, lusts, and greed interfere. Each of these transitions acts as a checkpoint, merely a threshold for them to cross into another level that until then was buried or absent. What does this mean for the audience? In my opinion dynamic characters whose outcomes are up in the air, leading to suspense, mystery, and a guessing game to keep one into the movie. The ever-changing plot keeps you guessing, thus for me wondering where they are going next and what will happen to the characters we latch on to. If you’re like me, then you’ll be feeling mixed emotions for the characters at each stage, bringing out your own emotions and captivating you into the movie.
For all the good though there are plenty of weaknesses for me in this movie. The biggest is the length/pace of the movie, which is deadly slow at points that you just want to take a nap. While the plot is incredibly detailed, intertwined, and developed, it is a two hour long movie, and for me that needs some fast points to drive us to the end. American Hustle lacks that fast pace, lacking any chase scenes, hide and seek, and gun play. All threatening and a few punches are all the action you’ll get in this film, so don’t expect much there. A dialog filled with the F bomb is something else I don’t particularly like or respect. Though this is not the worse use of the F word, it still a little too freely used, as if that is the only word in the movie dictionary. Perhaps the last weakness for me is how annoying some of the characters become. Realistic as it may be, some of the characters obsession become annoying, their pathetic desires turning the strong into fragile messes. Yes it is to show how the mighty can fall, but don’t drag it out as long as they did before a solution arises. There are other things to comment on, but we are running out of space so let’s wrap this up.
American Hustle is a great story, with characters you can latch on to and meld into your lives. An unpredictable story, and dynamic characters are meshed together to create a world that is believable, and drama filled for all who relish in the genre. Yet the slow pace of this film and the pathetic romantic ploys get old for me and put me to sleep. Those looking for a good plot movie, and some fantastic characters should pay a visit to your nearest theater. Warning to you though, don’t take those who complain about stupid decisions, or children as there are some very pathetic and graphic displays. Wrapping all this together here are my scores:
Movie Overall: 8.0