Amsterdam (2022) Movie Review & Ending, Explained: A bringer of hope most of all, however dreamlike it may be; star-studded Amsterdam (2022) is a Kintsugi of all that is broken–coming together–comforting one another, and alluding to the beauty in everything that just needs a little bit of love to shine. David O. Russell makes a story of a conspiracy evoke such mesmerizing empathy that binds the shattered trio in a spell of safety impactful enough even to lighten up the most nihilistic of possibilities.
Breaking the awfully long streak of disappointments that star-studded projects like these have turned out to be, Amsterdam allows Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, Anya Taylor Joy, Rami Malek, and Robert De Niro to shine through in their most personalized circles that are connected enough to validate the odd existence of each of their characters. What has been the evil of other such star-cast films is the desperation to get insanely popular talents to break out of what works for them and try something obnoxiously, and callously new. Lucky for us, Amsterdam takes the opposite route.
Take the title card that suggests that most of the story is true, with a grain of salt, like you should’ve with the likes of Fargo. Russell’s leading trio is as fictional as they come–as if that kind of loving utopia could ever exist in the real world. A manic pixie dream girl adopting a splintered doctor and his injured friend in the safe embrace of friendship carries the lingering feeling of the antithesis of co-dependency. They help each other heal.
To solve the mysteries that have out of the blue befallen the strange friends, and reunited them with the one that was lost, Amsterdam (2022) creates a puzzling world of intertwined narratives that even with a predictable movement, succeeds in staying confusing throughout. And that’s a good thing.
Amsterdam (2022) Plot Summary and Movie Synopsis:
In 1933 New York hopped up on self-created medications that help him deal with the physical pain of a messed up back and the emotional burden of losing an eye in the Great War; Burt (Christian Bale) has dedicated his life to helping injured war vets in his little clinic that is facing the threat of being shut down. His hopeless life of being ignored by his upper-class wife Beatrice (Andrea Riseborough) and ridiculed by the in-laws who–according to him–sent him to war and wished for his death, finds a scrap of meaning when he’s asked to solve a possible murder. His attorney friend Harold (John David Washington) who had served with him, makes him privy to the mysterious death of the Army General who had brought the two together during the war. Dead general Bill Meekin’s (Ed Begley Jr.) daughter Liz (Taylor Swift) begs the two to perform an autopsy of her father and find out what killed him.
The autopsy that reveals certain poisoning of the unfortunate general, throws Burt in the warm presence of pathologist Irma (Zoe Saldana) who comes as the first breath of fresh romance since his hopeless attempts at rekindling his marriage. Burt and Harold are pulled into a world of mystery that goes far deeper than they had imagined when Liz is murdered by a red-faced goon (Timothy Olyphant) and the two become the prime suspects.
Back in 1918, during the first World War, Burt was appointed by General Meekins to put a stop to racial discrimination amongst the troops. Straight to Bert and Harold being severely injured in the war and being treated by the eccentric nurse Valerie (Margot Robbie) who makes art out of the horror that are the shrapnels found in the wounds of the soldiers; the three become the closest of friends and Valerie falls for Harold.
Yanking the two away to Amsterdam, Valerie introduces them to undercover spies Paul Canturbury (Mike Myers) and Henry Norcross (Michael Shannon). Bird enthusiast Paul fits Burt for an excellent glass eye. The three spend endless dreamy days dancing in the fair city where the impenetrable spell of friendship keeps them from the horrors of the world. However, despite Valerie’s pleadings, Burt pushes the first domino when he comes back to New York to reunite with his wife who could not care less about him. And it all falls apart. Valerie vanishes into thin air and Harold comes back to the city.
Back to 1933–Burt and Harold’s pursuit of proving their innocence leads them to wealthy socialite Tom Voze (Rami Malek) and his strange wife Libby Voze’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) home where they’re surprised to join Valerie, who happens to be Tom’s sister. Now suffering from mysterious symptoms of a disease that nobody bothers explaining to her, Valerie is over the moon to see Harold again. Tom suggests that Burt and Harold try to speak to army vet General Gill Dillenbeck (Robert De Niro) who, according to Tom, would be more accepting towards war vets such as the two than himself.
Following Liz’s killer who was keeping an eye on them, Valerie and Harold are led to a strange clinic where The Committee of The Five conducts unethical sterilizations and a whole lot of questionable businesses. Meanwhile, Burt is being pestered by cops (Matthias Schoenaerts and Alessandro Nivola) while he resets Irma’s broken wrist, courtesy of the goon that assaulted her and stole Bill’s autopsy report. The three meet with Paul and Henry and find out that The Committee of The Five is a fascist organization led by powerful people hoping to overthrow the American government. Urged by Paul and Henry, the trio manages to get an audience with Gill Dillenbeck who is already being pursued by the criminals to do their bidding and give a speech on their behalf. Persuaded by the wholesome cause, Gill agrees to give a speech at Burt’s army vet reunion event and draw in the people behind The Committee of The Five.
Amsterdam (2022) Movie Review:
What Russell essentially strives for in this whodunnit that is often light enough to not depress you but doesn’t forget its core for a second, is the celebration of the misunderstood and the tormented. Bale as Burt thrives as a whole phenomenon whose eccentricities come with everything that is also endearing about him. He loses his glass eye as often as he loses his train of thought. What drives you to take a closer peek at his inherent brokenness is that his insecurities are never without the hope of a better tomorrow. His redemption for the unfairness that he has shown himself in the love that never was, blends with the bleeding pathos of every “ugly” thing the war creates.
While being a moving commentary on the war itself, Amsterdam does quite frequently come close to the kind of patriotism that if left unchecked, can transform into the fascism the movie so passionately despises. However, that is to communicate to us the exact thing that Burt was feeling–that Harold wanted–that Gill risked his life for. Keeping my personal predicament with the root of these feelings that run a bit too amok in the current political scenario of the world, aside; what the war vets felt after the first world war and at the brink of the second one, is something deeply personal and troubling–something that can not be truly perceived with the morals of the present day.
Margot Robbie is a pretty perfect Valerie. The human embodiment of beauty and hope itself. To be fair, the character does bear the exhausting fulfillment of the exact quirky but perfect heroine that is demanded by the misogynistic expectations from a woman even at a time of such horror and tension. While every other character is allowed to be flawed and loved, Valerie’s oddities are limited to the universally accepted amount. In contrast to her perfect princess, there is the peculiar wicked stepmother in the form of her sister-in-law Libby–portrayed to the brim with absolutely ridiculous hilarity and grace by Anya Taylor Joy.
What’s mainly to be appreciated in the movie which runs at a crazy pace that emulates the frenzy of the events, is Russell’s ability to bind it all together with timely humor and the whimsies brought on by the supporting characters. Emmanuel Lubezki’s vision for every frame denotes the very soul of the film. In the fun and the softness of it all, Amsterdam becomes the incredible vessel for holding all the miseries, but in a way that doesn’t paralyze the liveliness of it.
Amsterdam (2022) Movie Ending, Explained:
At the reunion event, Paul and Henry set up a peephole to keep an eye out for the happenings all around. Beatrice is finally showing Burt the bare minimum respect that he deserves now that he’s in cahoots with the big shots. Nevertheless, she can’t keep up the act for too long and ends up getting dumped by him. Tom and Libby lead Gill to the backroom where he finally meets the faces behind The Committee of The Five. The business sharks invite Gill to join their force and their plan to overtake the government. They try to persuade him to work on the vulnerable veterans that are already struggling under Roosevelt’s reign.
On the stage, Gill shocks everyone with a speech that is not only brave with its unabashed honesty, but also with the risky information about the realities of Bill’s murder. Arousing the crowd with his daring talk, Gill doesn’t even mind losing his life. And he comes close to it when the german goon shoots at the stage despite Valerie and Harold’s attempts to stop him. The second shot, however, hits Burt.
Tom and Libby allow Burt into their secret stash of eyedrops that calm them and take away any feeling of anxiety or pain. High on the opium drops, Burt accompanies the group backstage where Tom and Libby are still on their mission to recruit Gill for their Nazi agenda. Numbed by the drops, Burt watches the whole confrontation unfold without saying a word. Having a hard time accepting that her own brother is behind the whole thing, Valerie tries to make sense of it all. Further shock comes her way when Tom not only admits to giving her medications to keep her sick but also tries to gaslight her afterward. The strange couple is then taken into custody, although with the knowledge of being free again soon thanks to Tom’s money.
For the time being, the group has saved the country from the Nazi takeover. Knowing that they’ll never have a good life here, Valerie and Harold set out for a life far away reassured by their well-wishers Paul and Henry. Despite wanting to, Burt doesn’t leave. He wishes to stay in the country and do his best to make it a better place so that someday his friends can come back.
The start of the credits shows the original footage of Smedley Butler addressing Congress and briefing them about the Nazi agenda. Along with that, we see Gill on the side, doing the same.