Director David O. (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) Russell continues his winning streak by combining elements and actors from his previous two triumphs to deliver one of the most enjoyable films of the year. American Hustle has something for everyone. For those who require comic relief, there are well-placed laughs just about every five minutes. For those who need drama, there is at least one good "Oscar clip" moment for each of the film's lead actors. And for those who just want a smart (but not too smart) con flick, there are a slew of "don't blink or you'll miss it" moments throughout the film. It's everything you want in this, the most exhausting time of the year for everyday moviegoers. It would be fun to see a film like this dominate the awards seasons because, to be completely honest, it sort of mocks the whole idea surrounding how to make a quality picture.
Stars Christian (Out of the Furnace, the Dark Knight trilogy) Bale, Jennifer (Silver Linings Playbook, The Hunger Games series) Lawrence, Bradley (The Place Beyond the Pines, The Words) Cooper, and Amy (The Fighter, Doubt) Adams each deliver their own special brand of craziness to an over-the-top, hard to believe, adventure surrounding four lovable losers who plot to use, team up, double-cross, change their minds, and inevitably destroy one another. In the process, they cross the paths of a seemingly incorruptible politician (Jeremy Renner from The Town and The Hurt Locker), a grumpy and judgmental FBI agent (Louis C. K. from Louie and Parks and Recreation), and even a crime boss played by an A-lister who somehow kept his name out of the papers and will cause audience members to simultaneously gasp and laugh when he makes his ridiculous cameo appearance halfway through the film.
The biggest strengths of this film include the director's ability to make the unrealistic plausible, the undeniable charisma of Jeremy Renner, the off-beat and out-of-character performance of Christian Bale, and the recapturing of lightning in a bottle that was Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper playing absolutely insane individuals. The Fighter shocked America with Bale's uncomfortable performance, one of which would have been ruined by a lesser actor. Silver Linings Playbook won over audiences by reinventing what it means to be labeled as a romantic comedy. And American Hustle not only pokes fun at history, a decade full of terrible fashion and hairstyles, and the idea of rooting for the bad guy, but also something that, until this film, was a bit unclear to the rest of the world outside of Hollywood... That's right. This movie succeeds in not only providing Amy Adams with an unlikable role, but embracing the fact that she is unlikable. Making her, in a sense, not only tolerable, but actually, for once, quite good. The final con of this film is not the twists and turns of the plot, but the subtle explanation, acknowledgement, and embracing of Adams' complete and utter lack of talent. Though it is far from the best film of the year, it is certainly the most fun. And in this industry, that's hard to come by. Especially during awards season.