‘American Hustle’ Review

By Eli Ralston

   American Hustle is the latest film from hit director David O. Russell, with an all star cast including; Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner.

   It is loosely based on the bizarre Abscam FBI sting operation in which seven members of congress were caught accepting bribes. The movie follows Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) who runs a dry cleaning business by day and is a small time con man by…..other parts of the day. When Irving meets a “fearless,” Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) he finds a kindred spirit in her.

They launch an ongoing scam together, in which Sydney pretends to be a British Aristocrat named Lady Edith Greensly, who has banking contacts in Europe. They target depressed people in order to get a $5000 dollar investment fee to get a larger amount in return. Here lies one of the first problems in the film, I found that for a con movie, the cons were painfully transparent and just difficult to buy into. You would expect in a con movie for there to be at least a few twists. But you could also make the argument that American Hustle, originally entitled American Bullsh** isn’t as much about the hustle, as it is about the BS.

After getting caught by FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) in their scam, he forces them to cooperate in a larger operation in which they must act as bait for the mob and political whales. I won’t spoil the rest of the movie for you, but the rest of the film is about how they are going to entrap the mob and political whales, and the insanity that ensues, including some pretty funny moments from Roselyn Rosenfeld (Jennifer Lawrence).

The plot of American Hustle is pretty entertaining throughout, although there are a few plot holes and characters that disappear for no reason whatsoever. For example the mob boss, played by Robert Deniro, comes into the film and adds a new element of danger to the movie and then he is completely forgotten and never mentioned again. I feel that his role was just to be a nice cameo by Deniro and nothing more.

   The ending was a bit of a let down as well. The whole movie was building to this big climax at the end and by then I was pretty let down and simply expected more. I felt that the ending was going to be some big “con” with a great twist but instead it was small and predictable.

The performances of American Hustle were obviously the greatest part of the film. With fantastic performances from Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and especially Jeremy Renner who doesn’t get enough credit for his role. I feel that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence didn’t really give Oscar worthy performances, but they were still great.

All in all, American Hustle is one of those movies that I really wanted to love, but I just couldn’t bring myself to it, I can only say that I liked it. Ultimately, the story lacks the emotional punch necessary to elevate it to something that you will remember for a long time. But there is still plenty of depth to this film with the message that the American Dream is something that can be BS. It won’t blow your socks off but American Hustle is a movie worth seeing.

Verdict: Good
Positives: Amazing performances from Bales and Adams, Hidden Depths, Plenty of humorous moments
Negatives: Story doesn’t pay off emotionally, Con movie with predictable cons, Was the DeNiro cameo necessary?