David O. Russell’s American Hustle opens with a truly elaborate combover. The year is 1978. The place is a New Jersey focused on economic rebuilding, specifically through revitalizing Atlantic City.
Christian Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld and Amy Adams’ “Edith Greensly” (a faux-British aristocrat whose real name is Sydney Prosser) are lovers whose cons eventually force them to the other side of the law. After FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) busts them for fraud, the two agree to aid him in his crusade against corruption. They target idealistic Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) as a means of entry to a web of political corruption. Unfortunately, what should build to an explosive climax fizzles out about halfway through Hustle‘s 138 minutes.