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American Hustle (Blu-ray Review)

12 Mar, 2014 By: John Latchem

Street 3/18/14
Sony Pictures
Box Office $148.57 million
$30.99 DVD, $40.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence.’
Stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Peña, Shea Whigham, Elisabeth Röhm.

Viewers looking to spend some time in the disco era hanging out with a cast of ‘A’-list stars will be well served by American Hustle, director David O. Russell’s character-driven examination of the FBI’s Abscam sting operation in the late 1970s.

Russell’s script changes the names of the particulars as he presents the tale of how a con man (Christian Bale) and his mistress (Amy Adams) helped an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) take down several high-ranking politicians for graft. The devil, of course, is in the details — the emotional subtexts motivating the characters, and the deceptions they create for the benefit of themselves and others.

The acting, production values, dialogue and period music are all top notch. Even so, this is the kind of technically proficient film that inspires admiration more than adulation. It certainly deserved its 10 Oscar nominations, but I don't think it comes as a big shock that it didn't win any.

Extras on the Blu-ray are sparse, but probably sufficient enough for this kind of film.

First up are 23 minutes of deleted scenes and extended takes loaded with more of the kind of character moments showcased in the film, and lots of Jennifer Lawrence dancing around.

There’s also a 17-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that includes the typical brand of praise heaped upon the director by his stars, and the crew expressing excitement for being allowed to re-create a bygone but distinct period of cultural history.

However, it might have been nice to have a featurette about the real Abscam scandal, perhaps in the context of the liberties taken with actual events in order to craft the film’s storylines (since the basic historical details can be found all over the Internet).

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