While the brevity of Last Vegas should reach out to the mainstream, here’s an all-star heavyweight equivalent with a 138-minute running time.
It’s a compelling drama about a 1970s’ conman and his partner assisting a real-life, FBI-led ‘fake sheikh’ bribery investigation called Abscam.
Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams reunite with director David O Russell and his previous Oscar-winning performers Jennifer Lawrence and Christian Bale.
Former Batman star Bale is hilariously introduced as pot-bellied conman Irving Rosenfeld gluing on his comb-over hair.
Rosenfeld and his very braless, new British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are forced to help FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).
Also at the heart of a labyrinthine plot frequently rescued by the witty script and bravura performances is dodgy Mayor Carmine Polito, played by Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker).
And there’s Rosenfeld’s loose cannon wife Rosalyn (Lawrence).
Unable to use a sun lamp without burning her face and determined to hang on to Rosenfeld via their young son, Danny, Rosalyn’s volcanic outbursts could be the undoing of any featured character.
Co-written by Eric Singer (The International) and Russell himself, and opening with the rider ‘some of this actually happened’, everything is larger than life in classic 1970s’ fashion.
Despite an uncredited (disappointingly brief) cameo from another famous Russell old boy and the outrageous use of Paul McCartney’s James Bond classic Live and Let Die alongside other period hits like Bowie’s Jean Genie and Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, American Hustle lacks the emotional heart of the director’s previous two movies (Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter).
But, complete with a score by Danny Elfman and cinematography by Linus Sandgren (Promised Land), it’s still a tour-de-force piece of filmmaking about the art of survival – and a cinematically-glorious throwback to the Gene Hackman era.