Written by Eric Singer and David O. Russell
Directed by David O. Russell
A swindling couple are forced by the FBI to assist in going after bigger game, but the operation to take down corrupt government officials spirals out of control as it becomes a mystery on who is conning who. American Hustle is filled with great performances that are among the most realistic and complicated characters of the year. It’s a shame they’re trapped in the plot of an hour long USA Channel original program! Heck, the characters even use the word “leverage” multiple times, and Leverage is among my favorite of those shows (it also features criminals who swindle criminals, though it aired on TNT!) Sure, sure, the film’s all loosely based on ABSCAM, but the real reason to watch American Hustle are the performances, not the crime story.
Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is a street kid who learned at a young age that everyone was out to take everyone, and set out to get his own, even if it meant doing things outside the book. He graduated from smashing windows to drum up his dad’s glass business to loan scams, offering money to desperate people and pocketing the deposit as he disappears. Even his appearance is a huge cong, with one of the most complicated comb-overs in history. He falls in love with Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a woman of the world who is one of the few that has the same cultured interests (such as jazz). She takes to his scams and soon the pair are running through the clients. Despite being careful, they don’t stay entirely off the radar, and are soon set up by FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso is trying to make a name of himself at the FBI, much to the chagrin of his supervisor Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K.), who advocates a more cautious and nonflamboyant approach to bringing down criminals. In exchange for leniency, Rosenfeld and Prosser must now help DiMaso go after bigger game, corrupt politicians and businessmen.
Jeremy Renner is literally unrecognizable as Mayor Carmine Polito, he’s as Jersey as you can be without having dated someone from Jersey Shore. Polito is a heartfelt good guy who is trying his darnedest to revitalize New Jersey and bring in casinos for jobs and money. Unfortunately he does so via methods that are extralegal at best, which makes him a target of DiMaso.