In 1978, con artist Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) at a party. They have an immediate connection and start a relationship. When Irving tells Sydney what he does for a living, stealing cash deposits from people looking for a loan, he thinks she hates him when she leaves. She returns as English aristocrat “Lady Edith Greensly”. Together they scam and work together and though Irving loves her he is hesitant to leave his solipsistic wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) because he knows he will lose contact with her son Danny who he loves like his own child. Rosalyn knows her husband is up to no good and threatens to report him to the police if he leaves her.
Richard “Richie” DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), an FBI agent, pretends to apply for a loan and when Sydney takes the deposit from him she is arrested and locked up in a cell. Irving is highly upset that she is in isolation and accepts a deal with DiMaso to help them arrest four conmen, caught through their superior skills in the business. Richie believes that Sydney is English, but not an aristocrat and no one informs him otherwise. Sydney is furious with the idea and wants to flee the country with Irving but he doesn’t want to leave because of his son. She tells him that she will do the deal but she is done with him and he can stand and watch as she manipulates DiMaso into liking her.
Irving employs the help of his friend, a man who pretends to be an Arabian Sheik (Said Taghmaoui). The Sheik is “looking” for investments in America. They target the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), a man who really wants the best for his community and has been unsuccessfully campaigning to reopen Atlantic City, something he needs spans of cash for. Richie wants to make Carmine the target of the operation, but Irving and Richie’s boss, Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K) object to this. Sydney, who is still getting back at Irving, helps Richie manipulate the lady who does the FBI cash wiring and wires 2 million dollars into an account to back their story that they have the cash to give out loans. Anthony Amado, Stoddard’s boss, hears of Richie’s plans and goes over his head to approve Richie’s endeavours.
Richie, for all his eagerness, is still a newbie when it comes to operations. His over eagerness causes Carmine some alarm and he leaves, but Irving rushes after him and apologizes, and Carmine says he will do business with them only if he exclusively deals with Irving.
Richie goes behind Irving’s back and switches his Sheik with a FBI-agent who can barely speak the language. They arrange Carmine and the new Sheik to meet at the airport and they are invited by to a casino party hosted by Carmine. Victor Tellegio (Robert DeNiro), a Mafia overlord, is at the party and Irving is upset that they are now dealing with mobsters. Things nearly go south when Tellegio can speak Arabian. They are narrowly saved when a drunken man arrives and disrupts the meeting. Richie agrees to a 10 million dollar transfer to prove they are legitimate, once again something the neither FBI nor Irving cleared.
At the casino party, Rosalyn meets mobster Pete Musane (Jack Huston) who she starts seeing behind her husband’s back. She mentions to him she is sure Irving is working for the IRS, and Pete threatens Irving but he assures Pete they will prove the investment is real. Irving, furious, confronts Rosalyn and she claims she did it because he makes her feel unloved. She agrees to keep his secret but says she think it will be better if they get divorced.
Richie admits to being attracted to Sydney. She confesses her real identity, and he becomes agitated and violent. Irving arrives and throws Richie out of the room, calming Sydney down while sorting out most of their problems. He assures her when it is all over that she, he and Danny will find a way to make a life together.
Richie and Irving videotape a number of Congress members receiving bribes. Richie gets yet another 2 million dollars allocated to the project to prove they are legitimate. A handover meeting is attended by Richie and Irving and Tellegio’s lawyer, Alfonse Simone (Paul Herman). Alfonse promises a number of criminal activities not knowing he is being recorded
Will Carmine be locked up as well? What will Tellegio do when he finds out he is being double crossed? Will Rosalyn really leave Irving, letting Sydney be with him? What will happen to the out of control Richie?
I really don’t understand why everyone has been raging about American Hustle. I found it way too long, dragged out and then the ending rushed, and a very simple story at the end of the day.
However, the acting was outstanding and the costumes beautiful. The movie was stretched out over two hours and it was highly unnecessary with the tale being told.
American Hustle had a power-packed cast; something I feel can be detrimental to the story. Sure, it attracts a lot of interest, but fresh faces can give fantastic performances too. Christian Bale here stood out as the best of the cast as always. I love how he is always willing to go the extreme for his roles and he did it once again here. Jennifer Lawrence played her seemingly typecast role as a crazy woman well, and she was quite funny with her constant habit of setting everything on fire. Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper also gave good performances, with Bradley’s ‘fro stealing the moment. I thought Jeremy Renner did such a good job as the Mayor. The Mayor was mostly an innocent, good man, caught between the desperate attempts of the FBI to capture someone. Renner is quite a good actor and I’m tired of seeing him underdeveloped. I sincerely hope that this will be the beginning of good things for him.
So, basically alright but not worth the hype.