They called it “the War to end all Wars.” Of course, history will tell us that it wasn’t, but shortly after WW I things were looking up for a couple of former soldiers. Burt (Bale) was a Park Avenue doctor who married above his station and only went to war when his father-in-law suggested that a man with medals would have some esteem. Harold (Washington), now a lawyer, was part of the all-Black unit in Europe that Burt was given command of. When their former commanding general dies suddenly, they are asked to investigate the death. But they may not like what they find.
Smartly written, with a few odd quirks – the trademark of a David O. Russell film – “Amsterdam” is a who-dunnit with many possible suspects. The trio of friends – Burt, Harold and Valerie (Robbie) – met shortly after the war, when Burt and Harold were patients in a hospital in which Valerie was the nurse. Appalled by the treatment Burt and Harold received, Valerie takes them to a couple of bird-watching friends (Mike Myers and Michael Shannon), who treat them. Because he lost an eye, Burt is given a box of premium glass ones, an item that becomes part of the plot every time Burt is punched – which is often – and they eye falls out. Bale proves himself a fine master of physical comedy and, based on his work here, would be a great casting choice should they ever make a “Columbo” movie.
The cast is vast and at the top of their games, with fine supporting work by Rami Malek, Chris Rock, Zoe Saldana and Robert DeNiro. Russell’s script is tight and he keeps the action moving at a nice pace. You do have to pay attention, as every new twist takes you in a different direction. That being said, head to the nearest cinema and book a ticket to “Amsterdam.”