The cast of Amsterdam is filled with incredibly talented actors such as Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Timothy Olyphant, Chris Rock, Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, and Anya Taylor-Joy. One would think that having them all in the same movie would mean it is, at the very least, good. Unfortunately that is not the case with Amsterdam. This film has the potential to be decent, but it never gets there. Instead it is a convoluted mess of a movie that has no idea what genre it is — and neither do the actors that are in it.
Amsterdam follows three best friends who end up in the midst of a murder mystery. Based very loosely on true events, there are also elements of a period piece drama, and anti-fascism messaging. On top of that, the script includes a lot of humor — which can be hit or miss but is nonetheless, still there. There are also scenes that take place during war and a whole lot of drama making its genre completely unknown. Amsterdam ends up being a mix of true crime, drama, comedy, social impact, war, history, and thriller.
The biggest issue with this is that none of these are even given their time to shine, their time to play out as they should. Instead it feels as if everything is thrown into a vat, stirred up, and spilled out across the table, forcing the audience to try their very best to put it all together. This is a case of too many elements being thrown into a far too long movie, which is a shame because the premise is intriguing.
Amsterdam is over two hours long. It starts off with the murder and then jumps years into the past, setting up for what is to come. While sometimes flashbacks work, it does not in this case. The movie needed to do something big in hopes to hook the audience, so it makes sense why they started where they did. However the choice to then spend nearly an hour in the past was not the right one. This takes the viewers completely out of the main storyline and throws them into a place they didn’t ask for. Yes, this is done so that they can learn more about the three friends and their relationship, but had it started off with this part of the movie, it likely would have played out at least a little bit better.
Probably the best thing about Amsterdam is the messaging behind it all. Though the majority of it is confusing, and some people will leave the theater still having no clue who the killer is or even why they did what they did, the theme surrounds your chosen family. The lesson about love being a choice versus a need, and not just romantic love but platonic love. That is beautiful and wonderful and something the world truly needs right now. However, it doesn’t quite fit in with the entire movie because Amsterdam doesn’t fully understand what it is.
As stated earlier, Amsterdam has a star-studded cast. But even the most talented of actors cannot save a convoluted and confusing script. That said, they do what they can with it. Throughout the two hours and fourteen minutes of the movie, there are glimpses of decent moments. Malek is phenomenal, as is Robbie. Bale plays a very kooky character who is easy to root for but never fully develops into someone memorable, and Washington starts off too reserved and flat, only to change part way through (with scripted reason, but it still doesn’t quite work).
Amsterdam has a few good moments, but overall it is a mess. It tries to do way too much, and because of that, it gets confusing and frustrating to watch. There is far too much going on, and even the incredibly talented lineup of actors cannot save it. It is a shame because there is something good there, underneath it all, but it is impossible to find.
Amsterdam hits theaters on October 7th, but honestly, you won’t be missing much if you decide to skip this one.