American Hustle is definitely overhyped, but it’s a reasonably smart, damn sexy, and an incredibly well acted film.
American Hustle is the story of Irving Rosenfeld (played by Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (played by Amy Adams), a con-artist couple who join forces to swindle desperate people out of their hard earned money. They enjoy the fruits of their “labour” until one day when the FBI catches up with them. They cut a deal with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (played by Bradley Cooper) to help him bust other con-artists in exchange for a lighter punishment. Unfortunately for Irving and Sydney, they soon find themselves involved with some very dangerous people, and they have to decide what is more important: their freedom or their lives?
- The performances are without a doubt the main reason to go see this movie – Adams, Bale, Cooper, Lawrence and Renner are all fantastic
- A surprisingly good performance by comedian Louis C.K. as one of the supporting characters
- Great characters that really get under your skin, in both a good and bad way
- There are a few intense scenes that really hit home
- A few surprising comedic moments
- The story itself was ok – it seemed to peak at the end of the second act and then never quite achieved that same kind of tension in the final act
- Some of the comedy is just awkward and feels forced
I’m not the biggest fan of these con-artist thrillers (I still haven’t watched all of Oceans 11 in one sitting) so you may need to take my opinion with a pinch of salt. The thing is, I found American Hustle to be a bit disappointing. By the time the credits were rolling I was thinking to myself “Objectively, it’s good, but it’s not worth all the hype it’s been getting.” I contribute this to the fairly stock standard story that climaxes too early, leaving the final act feeling relatively flat.
As overhyped as American Hustle might be, it’s still a good movie that’s carried by the performances and great characters. If you’re a regular reader of my reviews, you’ll know that I am a big fan of Amy Adams, and she doesn’t disappoint here. You’re never quite sure whose side she’s on and what her agenda is. Bale’s character comes across as surprisingly sympathetic, despite the fact that he steals from people who already have major problems. Cooper? He just keeps on going from strength to strength and his performance had you feeling sorry for him despite his character’s arrogant attitude and stupidity. Jennifer Lawrence is also great, even if you feel like you want to reach into the film and slap her character more often than not. Renner needs more material like this to help get him into the spotlight. I think he’s a horribly underrated actor who could carry a film if he had the right script.
So overall, American Hustle may be a bit overrated, but you should definitely check it out if you like the genre, or if you’re a fan of the actors involved. Avoid it if you’re expecting something along the lines of Argo or Captain Phillips. The tension just isn’t on that level.