The problem with writer/director David O. Russell’s most recent outing, Amsterdam, might be summed up as “too many”: too many famous faces cast as too many characters possessing too many quirks to the point that it feels like a great big party for them but rather a chore for us, especially considering the two-hour-plus runtime. Much like his overwrought American Hustle, it combines a fictitious storyline intertwined with historical events, and this time at least it sheds light on some forgotten but worth-remembering chapters from our past.
The plot centers on three close friends (Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie) who bond over the horrors of World War I but are able to recover in the bohemian lifestyle of the Netherlands’ capital. Fifteen years later in New York City, they are pulled into a treacherous murder mystery with profound ramifications—and surely not-coincidental relevance to the 2020s—and only when reunited can they save themselves and possibly the country as well. Russell has some good material here and a worthwhile message to defy convention and live life to the fullest, but it just gets bogged down by his own excess.
The 4K digital master yields a clean and crisp 2.39:1 image with plenty of detail (dang, some actors have really good skin) and sharp reproduction of the textures and patterns in the excellent production and costume design. A period piece, the movie boasts warm brown tones and a lot of natural lighting, which of course creates ample shadows that are pleasingly nuanced, in addition to occasional pops of color. HDR provides bold highlights in the glow of neon signs at night, in addition to the headlights and streetlamps.
The overall design of the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is fairly simple, with a proper balance between dialogue and music.. The illusion of 1933 Manhattan is aided by the usual audio cues, and the surround speakers are utilized from time to time, but the mix does not require nor does it display significant overhead activity. The included HD Blu-ray packs a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track and you’re not likely to hear much of a difference.
This release carries Fox/Disney’s “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” banner, although for the life of me I can’t figure out why. There are no extras whatsoever on the 4K disc, and just a fairly standard 15-and-a-half-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, “Welcome to Amsterdam,” on the HD platter. A Movies Anywhere digital copy of the film with the same featurette is also supplied.
Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray
STUDIO: 20th Century Studios, 2022
ASPECT RATIO: 2.39:1
HDR FORMATS: HDR10
AUDIO FORMATS: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core
LENGTH: 134 mins.
MPAA RATING: R
DIRECTOR: David O. Russell
STARRING: Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon