Con movies are only fun when the audience gets equally conned. And if they’re not along for the ride, they should at least be in on it. In American Hustle, neither of these principles hold true. The film follows Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a charlatan couple whose FBI bust forces their participation in taking down elite dirtbags. Their corrupt background elicits a guessing game as to their true loyalty and agenda. Had the writing and directing been stronger, that guessing game would have been far more enjoyable. The only shining light in this film is Jennifer Lawrence, who far exceeds her counterparts. Though this is certainly not a competition, if it were me, I’d have given strongest player more than one inning. Furthermore, Amy Adams was an unfortunate miscast. She’s meant to straddle the line between good and bad, but her delicate demeanor and sweet-natured spirit make it nearly impossible to believe the bad. Lastly, if your characters lack even a modicum of likability, so does your plot. When all of your players are parasites, does the end game really matter?
RATING: 2/5 STARS (Jennifer Lawrence upped that).