JOE reviews American Hustle 9 years ago

JOE reviews American Hustle

There’s a lot to be said for ripping off the style of famous directors, if American Hustle is anything to go by. Sure, we can throw around words like "homage" all we like, but this film, although “based” on actual events, owes a huge debt to the work of Martin Scorsese - particularly the opus that is Goodfellas.

But ya know what, it doesn’t hurt this deftly crafted story one bit. Why? Because director David O. Russell has enough talent to weave the multiple narrators and star-heavy cast into a seamless and hugely entertaining production.


Christian Bale;Jeremy Renner;Bradley Cooper

While Hustle is packed to the figurative brim with A-list talent, a lot of them placed in surprisingly slight roles, the real lead is clearly Christian Bale. Bloated, balding and looking absolutely nothing like the action Adonis he regularly portrays in the Batman series, he’s so good here you genuinely forget who you’re looking at as the film moves along.

Bale is relatively small-time con-artist Irving Rosenfeld; someone who has become very successful by keeping his dodgy dealings to such a level that they don’t appear on the law’s radar. That is until he hooks up with Amy Adam’s smart, ambitious Sydney Prosser and they get really, really good at ripping people off.


This attracts the attention of the FBI, and more specifically white collar crime expert Bradley Cooper (in another impressive turn). After Irving and Sydney cut a deal with Cooper’s Special Agent to avoid the big house, a new con is on, one that is bigger than either could ever have imagined.

The retro setting, multiple narrators and booming soundtrack would probably not have worked with the vast majority of other helmers; but Russell manages to balance the obvious seriousness of the plot with some surprisingly funny comedy. While Bale and Adams are tasked with moving the plot forward, Cooper is a more ostentacious sort who bounces off whoever he’s on screen with to genuinely funny results. The improvised scenes between him and his superior (played by the genius that is Louis C.K.) are a constant highlight.

Wonderful supporting peformances from the hefty likes of Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence only add to the fun with a slew of Oscar nominations possible for several members of this impressive ensemble.

But this is Russell’s film; and what lacks in originality of execution it makes up for in pure entertainment value.


American Hustle is a blast; a good time at the cinema and a hugely entertaining couple of hours.