David O. Russell | 138 mins | Blu-ray | 2.40:1 | USA / English | 15 / R
“Don’t put metal in the science oven!”
If you’ve seen that bit, you’ve seen the most successful thing American Hustle has to offer. Possibly a victim of hype, it’s an over-long disappointment.
The plot sees a pair of con artists (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) forced by an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to help take down some corrupt politicians (primarily represented by Jeremy Renner) and possibly the mob (led by a ‘surprise’ cameo). Occasionally throwing a spanner in the works — or some foil in the microwave — is the conman’s histrionic wife (Jennifer Lawrence).
As the uncommon four acting nominations attest, it’s all about the performances. Christian Bale got fat, Bradley Cooper wears funny hair, Amy Adams has frequently distracting cleavage, Jennifer Lawrence says something amusing about a microwave, and there’s the surprise cameo that everyone discussed and gave the game away. Jeremy Renner is also in it.
I never connected with the characters, so consequently never felt their predicaments, either romantic or professional. A halting chronologically-challenged start gives way to a middle that ultimately drags, before a “gotcha!” ending whose straightforwardness means it lacks the memorable punch of the best con movies.
Killer soundtrack, though.
American Hustle debuts on Sky Movies Premiere today at 3:45pm and 8pm.