Star studded cast let down by messy plot

Luca Giordano
Video Editor

From left, John David Washington as Harold, Christian Bale as Burt and Margot Robbie as Valerie in “ Amsterdam.” Photo by Merie Weismiller/20th Century Studios/TNS

“Amsterdam” is the newest star-studded movie in theaters, featuring Christian Bale (“Batman”), Taylor Swift (“Cats”), Margot Robbie (“Suicide Squad), Robert De Niro (“Goodfellas”) and others.

The film follows World War I veterans, doctor Burt Berendsen (Bale) and lawyer Harold Woodman (John David Washington), in 1933 New York. As they plan for a veterans’ event, the guest speaker and commander Bill Meekins (Ed Begley Jr.) in the war is found dead. Meekins’ daughter Elizabeth (Swift) brings the body to Burt to do an autopsy, as she doesn’t believe her father died of natural causes.

Burt performs the autopsy with help from nurse Irma St. Clair (Zoe Saldana), and they find poison in Meekins’ stomach. When Burt goes to share the findings with Harold and Elizabeth, Elizabeth is pushed into the flow of traffic by a hitman. The hitman points his finger at Harold and Burt, and they are suddenly prime suspects of Elizabeth Meekins’ murder.

While evading the police, Burt and Harold try to get to the bottom of the murder mystery and its connection to Bill Meekins’ death. In this murder mystery chase, the veterans run into former nurse Valerie Voze (Robbie), who took care of them during WWI and had a romantic relationship with Harold.

The movie is caught between genres and cannot decide whether to be a murder mystery, an adventure or a comedy. While the plot is focused on this murder mystery, the characters are constantly distracted by remnants of their past. Scenes also get so confusing that it is better to just laugh at the situation. Because it is caught between genres, it fails at all three of them.

Awkwardness is a theme of this movie. A low frontal shaking shot is frequently used while characters monologue, giving us the perspective of a child looking up at the characters. These shots also awkwardly isolate the characters, by paying too much attention to the monologues spewed out and not enough to the reaction of the other characters.

There is far too much dialogue in this movie, making it hard to follow and boring at times. Characters will monologue with no end, and will often reveal key details that would have been more rewarding to discover without dialogue.

Finally, the phrases “Amsterdam” and “Committee of the Five” are thrown around so often they lose meaning. Any time characters are in trouble or seeking some breakthrough, they throw these words around and suddenly everything magically resolves. When the last two shots of the movie are close ups of main characters saying “Amsterdam” without any reason, it becomes immediately clear that the planning of the movie was sloppy.

Although the visuals are stunning and period accurate, the plot is hard to follow and rarely engaging. The main trio of Washington, Bale and Robbie have charming natural chemistry, but are let down by the sloppy execution of the film.

“Amsterdam” is rated R for violence and bloody imaging and is available to watch in theaters. The movie’s run time is two-hours-and-14 minutes.


Luca Giordano- Video Editor

This will be Luca Giordano’s first year on ECHO Staff, but he also made several contributions while taking journalism class his junior year.

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