Amsterdam Recap

Jamie

One big perk of the past year is that Patrick and I have been able to go to the movies together a number of times (usually to partake in some artistic achievement like Tár or Prey for the Devil) and each trailer that plays gets a silent look between us. Usually these looks are balanced, like yin and yang. Equal and opposite looks. Like Banshees of Inisherin and Plane. It’s like “Boy, I can’t wait for that one,” but for opposite reasons. Then there is the look like “That seems like a bit much.” Like seeing the trailer for M3GAN and it’s kind of a good thing. Like wow… that seems like a lot… and it could be fun. The equal and opposite is a film like Amsterdam where we tiredly look over at each other and it’s just like… “that just feels like… a lot.” Amsterdam just felt like a lot. It’s just a lot.

To recap, there’s just a lot. Like… it’s a lot. Bale is a wounded veteran doctor in NYC who is called on by his black lawyer veteran friend, Harold, to help determine whether Taylor Swift’s father (a celebrated general) has been murdered. [Big breath.] He determines that he probably was, but when they go to tell TSwift she is unceremoniously shoved in the street and killed. The murderer tries to pin the murder on them and so they go on the run. In order to inform the rest of the film we are treated to a lengthy flashback where we meet Margot Robbie, a free-spirited artist/spy who helped treat them during the war. They become BFF’s Forever and live a great life in Amsterdam until Bale is like “I gotta go back to NYC to see my wife.” There he gets into hot water as he tries to help veterans with their pain and so Harold joins him to help, thus officially breaking up the trio. [Even bigger breath.] Back in the present Bale uses his connections amongst the veterans to stall the police and heads to Tom Voze’s house, a notable citizen of NYC, to try to get him to vouch for their character and they are surprised to find that Robbie is there. Turns out she’s a Voze. [Medium breath.] Tom Voze suggests they go talk to General Dillenbeck and try to get him on their side. In the meantime all kinds of shady stuff is happening with a group called the Committee of the Five and so they stop off to see Robbie’s spy friends. They say, indeed, the Committee of the Five are trying to establish a fascist state in America using Dillenbeck, so they should try to stop them. Dillenbeck agrees and sets up the climax of the film where he will lure the Committee to a veteran’s gala where they will reveal them to the authorities. [Final breath.] All of this occurs, but wait! Tim Voze is part of the Committee (what a twist!) and they use their power and influence to avoid jail. As a result Robbie and Harold have to go on the run, but it’s OK because they have love. Bale stays and I guess is fine. I don’t know. THE END.

There is too much going on to grasp what the purpose of all this was. There were aspects of the film I liked. For example, I thought the fact that Bale’s character was physically debilitated by his war injuries was an interesting idea to explore alongside Harold (struggling with the racism of the era) and Margot Robbie’s character (who’s art makes her family think she’s mentally ill). For a moment I thought the idea was that the broken and beaten down of the world were who really prevented the fall… but it’s just one of a million ideas that are ultimately explored in the film. So I can’t tell if that was even there. Maybe the idea is that Robert De Niro is what prevents the fall… could that be it? Anyway, the film looked good and the acting was generally pretty good I thought, but there’s nothing there to grab onto and by the end I wasn’t sure it amounted to much. It’s funny because I would say if you wanted something like this then you should just watch Don’t Look Up, which is just as big and (I thought) much more successful… but a lot of people also thought that was bad… so it kinda tells you everything you need to know about where this one ends up.

Hot Take Clam Bake! Maybe Robert De Niro should have just become the dictator of America… might have saved us from eventually starting BMT and now watching Amsterdam. Or maybe it’s the opposite, maybe under the fascist state art would have shrivel to a hard tiny prune and we’d be forced to eat our Amsterdam prunes every day extolling our dear leader, Robert De Niro. So now I’m not sure. Maybe Robert De Niro shouldn’t have become dictator of America. We’ll (probably) never know. Hot Take Temperature: Started as Carolina Reaper but shriveled to a Banana Pepper by the end.

Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Amsterdam? More like Amster-daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang, amirite? Thank you David O. Russell, the only way we were getting the chain reaction to work this year was with a crazy huge ensemble disaster. Let’s go!

  • It must be the fact that we avoid giant ensemble cast films like this for BMT because I can’t really remember the last one we watched. Maybe they just tend not to be that bad? Maybe I’m misremembering. Funny enough the one we chained from was Pearl Harbor, which is also a giant ensemble cast disaster. This feels different because it is a straight drama (with comedic elements).
  • Christian Bale is good.
  • The rest … I would entertain arguments that anyone in this film is good. They are all acting very weird. They are all being acted off the screen by Christian Bale who is amazing as usual. It is a cyclone of quirks that kind of never works.
  • Well, except Robert De Niro who acts like De Niro. It is weird he is supposed to be a real person (kind of) but in the end he’s just De Niro.
  • Russell films are weird. He likes to take a real life event, then he fills it chockablock with weirdos with quirks, and in the end the not-very-interesting real life event is overwhelmed by the quirky acting. But most of the time it works to varying degrees. This time?
  • Yeah, it is just really dull. Every time Christian Bale is on screen the film comes alive. His character is so real and quirky and fun and funny and works really well. But then every time anyone else is on screen the film falls apart. I wonder how hard Russell pushed to get Jennifer Lawrence in the Margo Robbie role. Probably so hard.
  • The real life event is the Business Plot by the way, and don’t bother reading about it, it seems like a genuinely uninteresting non-conspiracy of questionable authenticity. It is very weird that a movie has been made about it. The Bonus Army would have been a more interesting setting.
  • Gosh how do I even keep on talking about this film. It feels like it was barely written, the acting is mostly average at best, and it is beautiful and a cool period piece. I guess that is what it has going for it, it is a fun period piece at best.
  • I guess I’ll call it an A+ Setting (Where?) for Amsterdam, you can’t deny it does take place in Amsterdam to some degree. The film is closest to Bad because there just is nothing to it besides Bale, and you’ve seen better performances by him anyways.

Read about the unlikely science fiction sequel, Amsterdam 2: Half Past Time, in the Quiz. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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