Amsterdam Parent Guide
Adapted from a bizarre true story, this movie marries an intriguing premise with a remarkable cast but suffers from an inconsistent script and poor editing.
Parent Movie Review
After meeting during the Great War, Burt (Christian Bale) and Harold (John David Washington) become fast friends and vow to look out for one another. Twelve years later, they’ve kept their word. Burt, a doctor, is developing treatments for other injured and disfigured veterans, and Harold, now a lawyer, represents those who would otherwise lack access to legal services – but a new client is about to turn their lives upside down.
Harold is being retained by Elizabeth Meekins (Taylor Swift), the daughter of Bill Meekins (Ed Begley Jr.) the General who formed their regiment. General Meekins is dead, and Elizabeth doesn’t believe it was accidental. She wants Burt to perform an autopsy – but while they’re waiting for the results, Elizabeth is shoved in front of a car by a mysterious stranger (Timothy Olyphant) and Burt and Harold are blamed for her death. Now the friends find themselves trying to solve a murder, dodge the police, and avoid being killed by the real culprits. As they are drawn deeper into a bizarre conspiracy which will threaten the foundations of American democracy, the men will be reunited with a long-lost friend – if they can stay alive that long, that is.
The cast list for this movie reads like a director’s dream Rolodex – Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Robert De Niro, Chris Rock, Zoe Saldana, Michael Shannon… it’s a long list. I shudder to imagine the size of the casting budget, but it’s pretty much worth it. The best parts of this film are the performances from actors who are clearly having fun with the story and each other.
Casting aside, Amsterdam is a very, very mixed bag. An intriguing premise and remarkable actors are offset by an inconsistent script and some unusual editing. I think this production is trying to be a more grounded Wes Anderson movie. That’s not the best idea, resulting in tonal shifts from comedic melodrama to some extremely dark ideas without the buffer of Anderson’s whimsy – and boy, do you need that buffer. Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel gets away with a lot on whimsy alone.
On the other hand, this is a remarkably soft R-rating, with sex and profanity coming in at PG-13 levels. There’s some pharmaceutical experimentation, but it is legitimately done to treat extreme medical conditions. When you’re trying to help veterans with nerve pain, I don’t think Burt’s cocktails of morphine, cocaine, and whatever else he’s got in there are much removed from what doctors are prescribing now. The only justification for the R-rating I can see is the violence. Nothing particularly gruesome happens to any of the living characters on-screen, but they are briefly seen with some particularly nasty injuries, and a very graphic autopsy is shown in one instance. Perhaps more objectionable is the director, David O. Russell, who, apart from his reputation as a mercurial and violent man on set, has admitted to sexually assaulting his 19-year-old niece. You can decide for yourself whether or not two hours of fun casting and a timely plot are worth paying any share of your admission to such a guy.Directed by David O. Russell. Starring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington. Running time: 134 minutes. Theatrical release October 7, 2022. Updated October 7, 2022
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Rating & Content Info
Why is Amsterdam rated R? Amsterdam is rated R by the MPAA for brief violence and bloody images.
Violence: Individuals are seen undergoing graphic surgery after sustaining serious shrapnel injuries. There is graphic footage of an autopsy. A woman is pushed into the path of a moving truck. People are punched and non-fatally shot. A person is in pain as a broken bone is re-set.
Sexual Content: A couple are briefly seen nude from the shoulders up in bed.
Profanity: The script contains a sexual expletive, four scatological curses, and infrequent mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults are seen drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco. In a search for improved treatment for severe chronic pain, individuals are also seen taking morphine, cocaine, and Pervitin, which is a brand-name form of methamphetamine.
Page last updated October 7, 2022
Amsterdam Parents' Guide
What actually occurred in the Business Plot, which inspired the film? Who was involved? What were their goals? How close did they come to succeeding? How do large businesses and the extremely wealthy attempt to influence politics today? How has money infiltrated many modern democracies? What effects has this had on the United States? Have there been other attempted coups-d’etat against the government of the United States? What is the most recent attempt, and how was it instigated?
What is the nature of the allegations against the film’s director David O. Russell? What has his response been? Famed director Roman Polanski faces criminal charges for sexual assault and Woody Allen has a queasy relationship with his stepdaughter to whom he is now married.. Does a director’s history of criminal or unethical sexual behavior affect your perspective on their films?
The Skinny: Why we can’t watch Woody Allen films anymore
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Russell also directed The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and Joy. Other films about real-world plots and conspiracies include Official Secrets, The Report, The Big Short, and Vice. The predilection of the wealthy towards authoritarianism can also be seen in The Remains of the Day. Other movies built around an ensemble cast include Bullet Train, Inception, Knives Out, Don’t Look Up, Thin Red Line, Saving Private Ryan, Heat, Murder on the Orient Express, Love Actually, and Clue.