Amsterdam Reviews Are In, And Critics Are Split Over David O. Russell’s Star-Studded Movie

Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington in Amsterdam
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

With a big name like David O. Russell at its helm, and a ridiculously stacked cast featuring John David Washington, Christian Bale and Margot Robbie among many others, it’s impossible to not be intrigued by Amsterdam. Details about the mystery/comedy/thriller (Russell’s first film since 2015) were kept pretty well under wraps for a while. But with the film being one of this fall’s big releases, critics have had the opportunity to screen the movie and give us a better idea of what to expect.

What we do know about Amsterdam is the story revolves around the three main characters — a doctor, a nurse and a lawyer — becoming suspects in the murder of U.S. Sen. Bill Meekins. The supporting cast includes the likes of Chris Rock (who Christian Bale had to keep his distance from on set), Robert De Niro, Zoe Saldaña, Mike Myers, Timothy Olyphant, Taylor Swift, Rami Malek, and the list really does go on and on. So let’s see what the critics are saying, starting with CinemaBlend’s review of Amsterdam, in which our own Eric Eisenberg rates the film 3 stars out of 5. He says it’s a fun cinematic experience, even while walking a tightrope of being too much: 

Quippy zaniness is the keystone of the madcap adventure, and that voice is relentless even as the film veers towards some of the most consequential subject matter in modern history. If it’s not your thing, you’ll check out immediately, but those who get onboard will find an entertaining, albeit overcooked mystery that is enhanced with what feels in the moment like a seemingly endless ensemble of talented actors who enter the picture with each new plot development.

Travis Hopson of Punch Drunk Critics also rates Amsterdam 3 out of 5 stars, calling it “convoluted but enjoyable.” This review says David O. Russell takes an already complicated plot and fills it with flashbacks and an onslaught of often pointless characters, but it eventually tells a hopeful tale worth watching. The critic says: 

Amsterdam could be seen as Russell’s most ambitious film, but also his most convoluted, and ultimately most hopeful. For that last reason alone it’s a more watchable film than the one-and-done stuff he’s done previously. But also Russell is finding reason to trust in the power of true friendship and patriotism to win the day when evil strikes. It might take a circuitous, somewhat unfocused route to getting there, but that’s a lesson worth learning at a time like this.

Tessa Smith of Mama’s Geeky agrees that the story has potential, but argues that even the A+ cast can’t save it. This critic also calls the plot “convoluted” and says the movie can’t figure out what genre it wants to be, rating the film a 1 out of 5: 

Amsterdam never fully commits to any of these genres [true crime, drama, comedy, social impact, war, historical, thriller] nor does it give them the time they deserve to complete their part of the story. 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. The actors have no idea what to do with what they are given, and they all seem to have picked a different genre of Amsterdam to hold onto. Because of this, almost none of them even feel like they are in the same movie.

Jeff Ewing of SlashFilm agrees with the above assessment, giving the movie a 4 out of 10. This review also argues that the cast, while excellent all around, can’t save Amsterdam from its “tonal chaos,” saying: 

It's decidedly difficult for even such a talented cast of performers as this to salvage a narrative that can't decide the kind of film it's trying to be. If you don't know the target, how can your performance hit it? While the performers are adept and seasoned, without a bad actor among them, the impact of their talents is muted in a film whose tone fluctuates so wildly that it muddies nearly every aspect of the project.

Ian Freer of Empire rates Amsterdam 2 stars out of 5, saying the director wants to celebrate love, humanity and kindness, but the movie needed more finesse to come together successfully: 

Amsterdam suffers from a surfeit of story detail without the vigour to whizz you through it. It has likable leads and the craft is on point, but the result, given all the talent involved, is a tonally uneasy disappointment — a romp that fails to romp.

It sounds like there’s definitely a lot going on in this movie, but the critics don’t seem to agree on how successful the final product is at overcoming its flaws. If you’d like to give this film a whirl, Amsterdam will be available in theaters beginning Friday, October 7. See what else is hitting theaters soon with our 2022 Movie Release Schedule, and get a peek into next year by taking a look at the movies coming in 2023

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.