David O. Russell’s new movie Amsterdam starts off with the comment that ‘some of these events really happened,’ leaving the question about how much of the film has been exaggerated.

In Amsterdam, we follow Dr. Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale) and his friend Harold Woodman (John David Washington), who met during World War I and formed a pact to watch each others backs. After they were terribly wounded, including Burt losing an eye, they meet a nurse Valerie (Margot Robbie) and the three of them formed a relationship during their recovery in Amsterdam.

When Burt decides that he must go home to his wife Beatrice (Andrea Riseborough), Valerie predicted that something terrible was going to happen.

Years later, Burt and Harold were working together, one a doctor the other a lawyer, and they were hired by the daughter of a man who had died on the return trip from Europe. She believed that there was foul play and she wanted Burt to do an autopsy.

After the autopsy, with evidence of possible poisoning being turned up, Burt and Harold meet with the woman, but she gets pushed beneath a car and is killed. The actual killer pointed at Burt and Harold and claimed that it was them who had pushed the woman, sending them fleeing from the crowd and setting them on the case to try and find out why she was murdered.

Christian Bale, John David Washington and Margot Robbie were sensational together. They had such chemistry as a trio that they were always a pleasure to watch. Bale, in particular, was electric here, with so many amazing facial moments and a performance that was both funny and heart-wrenching.

The film had a great cast besides the three leading actors. These included Robert DeNiro, Rami Malek, Michael Shannon, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Chris Rock, Taylor Swift, Anya Taylor-Joy, Alessandro Nivola, Matthias Schoenaerts and Zoe Saldaña.

The story did meander a tad and the mystery was not remarkably strong. However, I so enjoyed watching the characters interact and I found myself laughing several times that the messiness of the story did not bother me. It was only upon reflection where these faults came out.

The Rotten Tomatoes score was considerably lower than I anticipated, because I enjoyed watching this movie. Is it too long? It did not feel long to me, but some may say so. Christian Bale was a real standout and gave a performance that you cannot look away from. Amsterdam was a fun and engaging film, no matter what anyone else claims.

3.6 stars

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