The movie itself is a con – it promises a lot but delivers very little.

American Hustle tells the story of con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Caught between the con-artists and Feds is Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator, but it’s Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) who could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. [Sony Pictures]

American Hustle is an entertaining redemption of a pot-bellied small time con man with an elaborate comb over who got cornered into working with an over eager cop. The period details are endearing.

However as the film progresses, it’s evident that American Hustle is a mildly successful con – a potential huge score that’s ruined by a poorly executed and muddled plot.

The movie gets too caught up with the distractions of its players. The film is more concerned with throwing in an ensemble of crooks and the personal complications of its characters. The plot gets more convoluted as the movie progresses.

The ensemble cast is decent, but only the female leads stand out. Amy Adams gave the film some emotional depth, while Jennifer Lawrence is amusing. The male leads pull off their usual tricks that gets forgotten within the film’s murky plot – Christian Bale acting through a physical transformation and Bradley Copper playing another likeable douchebag.

As the film wraps up and the audience is reminded that there’s actually a hustle in here somewhere, American Hustle grinds to a halt with an anti-climactic con job. If you strip away all the hype you’ve seen this all before: the anti-hero, the misguided good guy and the ensemble cast of zany characters all pulled into what started out as a simple deal that escalated into a fatal engagement.

In the end, the audience has to settle with average returns.

American Hustle is fun but empty, dazzling but overrated.

My Rating: 7/10

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