American Hustle Blu-ray Review

David O. Russell’s AMERICAN HUSTLE is like a shiny new nickel; it’s pretty to look at and there’s plenty there to be impressed by, but at the end of the day, it’s not worth very much.  It’s fun to watch your favorite stars play dress-up and pretend it’s the 70’s, but without a big payoff and with a somewhat pedestrian plot, AMERICAN HUSTLE is less than the sum of its parts.

Christian Bale in American Hustle

Irving (Christian Bale) and Sydney (Amy Adams) are a passionate couple living in New Jersey, content with running small time cons and managing their small businesses.  Everything is going well for them until they meet Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), an overly ambitious FBI agent intent on using Irving and Sydney to catch a really big criminal and politician.  To do this, Irving and Sydney convince Richie they need lots of money and resources and Richie complies, unable to focus on anything but nabbing his target and making a name for himself.  This sets off a cat and mouse game between the three as each tries to protect their own interests as the stakes get higher and higher.

Amy Adams in American Hustle

The center of every great con movie is the payoff.  Most con movies spend the majority of their time talking about the con and what’s going to be involved in pulling it off.  AMERICAN HUSTLE is no different as most of the film is spiraling towards a big showdown between Irving, the FBI and the mob.  This also becomes the most frustrating aspect of the film because after all the talking and posturing, the only “con” that took place involved one of Irving’s friends pretending to be a government agent, which really wasn’t more complicated than listing one of your friends on your list of job references.  It was anticlimactic to say the least and it ended up bringing down the entire film.  And a lot of the misdirection in the film was made possible by Richie’s incompetence, which consistently became a plot crutch for the writers.

Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale in American Hustle

Aside from the letdown ending, the acting was superb and the costumes were great.  Jennifer Lawrence has a small but great turn as Irving’s ex-wife, proving her versatility and presence once again.  Christian Bale gives another against-type portrayal as the overweight and sleazy Irving.  Bale is so great that I think we might be taking him for granted as an actor.  I also enjoyed Bradley Cooper’s Richie, who provided the most laughs when he went crazy on his boss (played by a subdued Louis C.K.).  Once again, David O. Russell got the most from his cast and their performances made the film better than what it should have been.  The downside to all the characters is that none of them are likeable.  When you take unlikeable characters and put them in dangerous situations, you usually get an indifferent audience, which turns out to be the case for AMERICAN HUSTLE.

Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle

AMERICAN HUSTLE received a ton of praise and even got 10 Academy Award nominations (but zero wins), so you don’t have to look far to find someone that liked it.  Unfortunately, the story wasn’t on the same level as the acting, costumes and directing, so I struggled to ever get on board with the film.


Video: AMERICAN HUSTLE is a beautiful film and this Blu-ray does the film justice.

Audio: The audio was just as impressive.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (23:23):  There are 11 deleted scenes in all and although it was nice to see more of the actors in work, none of them impacted the overall film.

The Making of American Hustle (16:34): This is a quick featurette focusing on how the film came to be and Russell’s vision for the movie.



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