It's a weak attempt at trying to copy movies such as Goodfellas, The Town, Italian Job and Oceans Eleven. It didn't deliver this unfortunately. I saw in one of the trailers that this is a comedy - really!? Russell is one of my favorite directors. It felt fake, contrived and half-baked from the first scene to the last, and as others have noted you just didn't care one bit about anyone on screen. Another thing you'll learn from screen writing books is that amateur screenwriters use too much dialogue.
Constant, ceaseless dialogue really bogged down the film for me. However, about 20 minutes in I was waiting and waiting for that big climax, the first killing, the twist, etc etc. I went into this movie with the highest of expectations simply because I did these type of gangster, conman, dramatic type of movies. He gave the movie a little bit of credibility, however it was short lived. It does have a sweet sound track, but that's not enough to save this one.
This film didn't have a single bone of subtlety in its entire body. With a current user rating of 8. The film is definitely not a comedy, though Jennifer Lawrence provides not only the best character but most of the few laughs the film has. I am surprised at the overall extremely positive reviews and will watch it again when it is on cable but expect my reaction to be the same. The acting was nothing to write home about. It was difficult to follow Bale's character because you could barely understand a thing he's saying. .
I read that most of it is improvised, and I think this lead to it feeling very fragmented and disjointed. So, in summary, I guess I'm the only person in the world who didn't care for this one. The film did not hold my interest and I was bored for most of it. Roeper's assertion at the beginning of this review, I love movies but I strongly disliked this one. It plays like a particularly sad Woody Allen movie without the jokes. Of course if I was enjoying the film the length would not be an issue.
Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner are particularly effective in their parts. The problem is with the story, the film's pacing and length. This movie, while containing decent acting performances for the most part, was difficult and just not very enjoyable to watch. I chuckled twice, and one of the occasions was in the film's first 30 seconds. It was difficult to take Bale and Cooper seriously, and the only time I really felt connected to the movie that I thought I was going to see was when Deniro hit the screen. However, I was left empty and unfulfilled throughout the entire movie. Amy Adams is fine, but not award worthy for a change.
I wanted to take it seriously and I wanted to see more crime, killing and drama. When flipping through a friend's screen writing book recently, I read that the most important thing a movie has to do is have a main character that the audience sympathizes with, a main character that the audience roots for. Bradley Cooper does a solid job with the most complex character in the film. This film also boasts an incredibly talented cast including Christian Vale, Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams. This movie is a classic case in amateurish, dialogue-heavy scenes. I enjoyed Lawrence's performance, however I enjoyed her comedy and humor, and that was just disappointing as I didn't want to laugh in this movie. This movie was advertised and promo'd as a serious crime, corrupt drama and it came across as a comedy moreso than a drama.
The story is fictional enough, and it kept somewhat interested, however it was too long and should have been shaven back a good 20-30 minutes. It just makes it that much more confusing to understand. My mind drifted often and I checked my watch many, many times. What was very strange, and a little unsettling, to me was that I felt this immediately, within the first five minutes of the film. No one else felt this? What should have been a compelling, interesting movie was turned into a bore fest with several funny moments. But neither is it memorable.
I understand that's his character, however it doesn't add any clarity to the story. There were several jokes that not a single person in the movie theater laughed at. . . .