‘Amsterdam’ Is a Flawed Retelling of a Real Conspiracy

Ulises Duenas


Amsterdam is a movie with an interesting plot and some solid acting from a good cast, but it gets bogged down by its script and subplots. The film is based on real events from the 1930s and it’s a story that’s relevant today -- although that doesn’t mean that it’s a must-watch.


Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington make up the central trio of the story as a doctor, nurse, and lawyer, respectively. Their bond was created after meeting in a hospital in France at the end of World War I. Twelve years later, they get swept up in a grand conspiracy that aims to change the course of the United States.



While watching the conspiracy unravel is entertaining, the core story is at odds with subplots and an abundance of side characters. The first half of the movie feels slow because of that since by the time you’re at the halfway mark, it seems that there’s been little progress in solving the mystery, and when it does get to it, the pacing feels rushed.


While Washington and Robbie put in good performances, it’s Bale’s work that really stands out in the film. His portrayal of an eccentric doctor plagued with pain and trauma from the war is compelling and provides moments of comedy throughout the film. While a lot of the movie is lighthearted in tone, there weren’t any scenes that are "laugh out loud" funny, but the script does have some dry wit to it.



The biggest problem with Amsterdam is that the longer it goes on, the preachier it gets with its messages. The conspiracy involves the rise of fascism that would cause World War II and the writer is willing to beat you over the head to make sure you get the parallels between the movie and today’s world. There’s also a message about chasing love and beauty wherever you can find it, and while there’s nothing wrong with these themes, the heavy-handed way the film goes about conveying them makes the whole thing off-putting. 


In today’s America, a film about resisting fascism, race relations, and love is totally relevant, but many films have proven that themes alone cannot carry a movie. Amsterdam has a lot going for it between its plot, cast, and interesting setting, but its problems are hard to ignore as you watch it. Those issues keep this movie from being great, but it’s still worth a shot if you have the chance to see it.


Author Bio:                            

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer at Highbrow Magazine.


For Highbrow Magazine


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