Irving Rosenfeld is a matchstick man who with his partner Sydney Prosser pull of smaller cons on desperate people as they hit rock bottom. Fortunately for all there would be victims and unfortunately for Irving and Sydney they are caught by Richie DiMaso, an FBI agent and are giving the choice between jail time or helping DiMaso catch a larger number of matchstick men. The details of this agreement as the film progresses escalates with DiMaso seemingly unquenchable ambition. The result is the scope and risk of the operation to continually expand from the largely mundane until both Mafia and politicians are involved.
Performances throughout as expected are superb. Sadly despite the strength of the performances the characters themselves falter. Little reason is given to care about the who and why with the back story for most characters being mostly minimal and underdeveloped. The result is a film with little reason to care for what happens and who it happens to. Admittedly this approach can and has worked in numerous other films, however it stumbles here with American Hustles most egregious of issues in the general lack of consequences present. Whether it is a statesman caught accepting a bribe or a character at the mercy of an aggressive and threatened Mafia, the results rarely have any impact and characters continually walk away unscathed. The stakes as a result could never be lower.
Thankfully whilst the film does falter with a story that is overly predictable, it does feature meticulous dialogue which combine with the performances to create moments that in of themselves vary from griping to hilarious. This moments display the underlining potential of what American Hustle could have been. Sadly whilst individuals moments are frequently intoxicating and enjoyable they never combine into a film that builds any degree of momentum, and the final con is disappointingly hollow and uninspired. All the elements come together in a way that has American Hustle that as a whole is unable to match its individual moments and is sadly less then the sum of it parts.
American Hustle is from director David O. Russell who has recently done such outstanding films as Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter. Combine this with an amazing ensemble cast and you have the makings of what should have been (and seemingly for most is) one of the better films of the year. Sadly whilst American Hustle does feature exemplary performances that are only equalled by the films sharp dialogue, American Hustle is a film that is less then the sum of its parts and has provides little reason to car for the characters or what happens. Hence American Hustle falls short of expectations and does not come recommended.