David O Russell's crime caper American Hustle - reviews

Christian Bale, Amy Adams lead great cast in irresistibly watchable black comedy about a 70s FBI sting

LAST UPDATED AT 07:40 ON Fri 20 Dec 2013
What you need to know

David O Russell's crime caper film American Hustle, opening in UK cinemas today, is "irresistibly watchable" and "explosively entertaining" say critics. Russell, best known for The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook co-wrote the script based on an actual FBI anti-corruption operation in the late 1970s.

Conman Irving Rosenfeld and his lover, Sydney Prosser, are forced to work with an FBI agent, Richie DiMaso, to entrap a group of Jersey politicians and Mafiosi, but Irving's unstable wife threatens to blow the carefully planned sting and put their lives at risk.

Christian Bale stars as Irving and Amy Adams as Sydney. Bradley Cooper is FBI agent Di Maso and Jennifer Lawrence plays Irving's wife. With Jeremy Renner.

What the critics like

Russell has made "a rangy, exuberant caper movie" with a cast that throw themselves into their roles here with gleeful, bungee-jumping abandon, says Robbie Collin in the Daily Telegraph. It's luxuriously entertaining.

It's a "brazen, nerve-jangling, irresistibly watchable black comedy", says Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. The cast are great, and the bizarre, uproarious and semi-credible story rattles along with plenty of comic set-pieces.

American Hustle "ranks with the year's best movies", says Pete Travers in Rolling Stone. You watch this explosively entertaining, dramatically gripping film on a cinematic high.

What they don't like

It's an extremely entertaining, brilliantly acted and highly diverting film, but "like all hustles, it delivers less than it promises", says Kim Newman in Empire. American Hustle is a showcase rather than a truly great movie, but it's worth being taken for the ride.    · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.