‘Amsterdam’ Doesn’t Know What Genre It Is, and That’s a Big Problem

Take one look at the cast list for Amsterdam and it is sure to impress.

Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Timothy Olyphant, Chris Rock, Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, and Anya Taylor-Joy (plus many more talented actors) come together for a movie and it must be good – right?

Unfortunately, Amsterdam has all the potential to be an incredible film, but it ultimately falls quite flat for many reasons. The biggest of all is that it does not know what genre it is, which in turn will confuse and frustrate the viewers.

The movie follows three best friends who accidentally become entangled in a murder mystery. Things go much deeper than that, however, and eventually, they realize they just might be dealing with a full-on conspiracy. Based very loosely on true events, there are some elements of history weaved in as it takes place in the early 1900s.

So What Genre Is Amsterdam?

Herein lies the problem with Amsterdam. Due to the fact that it flat out states “some of this actually happened” at the start of the film, and the side-by-side shot of true events and film events during the credits, Amsterdam is only part true crime story. There is no getting around that. Of course, there is also the murder to consider, which adds a bit of thriller and a bit of exaggerated murder mystery elements to it.

'Amsterdam' Doesn’t Know What Genre It Is, And That’s A Big Problem
Image Courtesy of 20th Century Studio – © 2022 20th Century Studios

On top of that, the script includes a lot of humor (which can be hit or miss but is nonetheless, still there) giving it a twist of comedy. There are scenes that take place during war and a whole lot of drama so… it is a war drama now? Throw in some lessons about racism and now we have a hodgepodge of true crime, drama, comedy, social impact, war, historical, thriller? While this certainly could work if done right, it isn’t. Amsterdam never fully commits to any of these genres nor does it give them the time they deserve to complete their part of the story. This is a case of too many elements being thrown into a far too long movie, which is a shame because the premise is intriguing.

Does Anything Work With Amsterdam?

As stated earlier, Amsterdam has a star-studded cast. But even the most talented of actors cannot save a convoluted and confusing script. That said, they do what they can with it. Throughout the two hours and fourteen minutes of the movie, there are glimpses of decent moments. Malek is phenomenal, as is Robbie. Bale plays a very kooky character who is easy to root for but never fully develops into someone memorable, and Washington starts off too reserved and flat, only to change part way through (with scripted reason, but it still doesn’t quite work).

Probably the best thing about Amsterdam is the messaging behind it all. Though the majority of it is confusing, and some people will leave the theater still having no clue who the killer is or even why they did what they did, the theme surrounds your chosen family.

The lesson about love being a choice and not a need, and not just romantic love but platonic love. That is beautiful and wonderful and something the world truly needs right now. However, it doesn’t quite fit in with the entire movie because again, Amsterdam doesn’t fully understand what it is.

'Amsterdam' Doesn’t Know What Genre It Is, And That’s A Big Problem
Image Courtesy of 20th Century Studio – © 2022 20th Century Studios

Overall Thoughts on Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a few fleeting good moments, but overall it is a mess. It tries to do way too much and as a result, it gets confusing and frustrating to watch. There is far too much going on and even the incredibly talented lineup of actors cannot save it. It is a shame because there is something good there, underneath it all, but it is impossible to find.

Amsterdam hits theaters on October 7th, but you won’t miss much by skipping this one.

Meanwhile, we've got the latest updates on all the movies in theatres now!

Rating: 2/10 SPECS

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


Tessa Smith owns MamasGeeky.com and is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic and a huge geek. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics associations including the Critics Choice Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association. She grew up watching movies, playing video games, and reading comic books -- and still loves all of those things. She proudly lets her geek flag fly and spreads the word that there is nothing wrong with being a geek.