American Hustle ★★

Despite the mesmerizing performances, the impeccable period detail, and the lovely visuals, American Hustle regrettably feels sort of hollow. It's lacking something at its center, and while it's far too expertly crafted to be called artifice, it nevertheless invites the comparison. There's no surprises here, and everything proceeds pretty much as how you'd expect it to. Say what you will about Silver Linings Playbook, the big dance sequence at the end was a manic, joyous delight (in addition to being very, very funny). There's no comparable sequence here, save for an all too brief montage of Jennifer Lawrence stomping around like Godzilla whilst growling the lyrics to "Live And Let Die."

I hesitate to say more, because I certainly enjoyed the film - but I also found myself quite disappointed with it once it was over. I had expected this film to be on the same level as The Sting (forever the gold benchmark for heist/con films), and it wasn't. Not by a long shot.

To quote the immortal Johnny Hooker: "It's not enough. But it's close."