But though it is a fast paced exhilarating ride of an entertaining film, mostly because of the performances, especially Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, it's just that, an entertaining escape. Despite some deep ideas about the challenges to living an honest life somewhere embedded in some of the story line and dialogue, ultimately it skims the surface for the laughs and the sexy surprises and the ride.
I actually knew one of the figures involved in the ABSCAM scandal, he was a friend of my father's because my father was an Essex County Democratic Party functionary in the years preceding the entrapment of the Congressman and Senator the sting the movie's more or less based on sent to jail. And I have to admit, having Jeremy Renner play an Italian Jersey mayor as the fictional figure representing the real victims of the sting bugged me. His over the top hair etc. But his performance grew on me and I began to appreciate it eventually.
No such problem with Adams and Cooper and Lawrence, and especially Bale. His fictional character was so believable and engaging, despite his glaring faults, I could have watched another movie with that character in it right after I finished this one! David O. Russell gets some credit as director for the pace and some original set ups and most of the casting and etc. But the reason to watch the flick are the lead performances. However, if AMERICAN HUSTLE beats out TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE for the Best Picture Oscar, or Best Lead Actor or Best Lead Actress, it'll be jive in my opinion.