Amsterdam is packed full of amazing actors with good performances all trying to swim above a drowning storyline. It’s like they have no idea what movie they were making and the editors do nothing to help them out.

The first few scenes hold promise, especially with Christian Bale as Dr. Burt Berendsen. He’s a veteran of the war and constantly testing new medicines and procedures to help other ailing veterans. His injuries include the loss of an eye, and the need to wear a painful back brace. When lawyer Harold Woodman (John David Washington) calls on Berendsen to assist on an autopsy, it’s clear the two have a past relationship. However, we’re still uncertain where they’re headed now. Suddenly Taylor Swift appears as Liz Meekins. It’s painful to see her trying her best. Soon enough they have her singing an awkward song before she is abruptly removed from the plot.

What happens next is a messy whodunit mystery with so much starpower that every scene feels like a battle between leading actors. At least we get the pleasure of the flashback to Amsterdam where Berendsen and Woodman first meet Nurse Valerie (Margot Robie). If there is any magic that they hope to inspire, it happens here.

The rest of it? I mean when we’re back in current times we get Rami Malek as Tom Voze with dilated eyes and a creepy distant-to-the-scene vibe. Then his wife Libby (Anya Taylor-Joy), is stiff and a nuisance, really. Unfortunately most of the characters are unexceptional and so dry you really have to reach to get that they’re being funny. I have this sensation that they did scenes in one take.

The plot is full of too many themes to pick just one. There’s nothing satisfying about the story. Robert Dinero is great, of course. The three leads are good, just didn’t feel like they had much to go on. So many others in the mix, too- including Mike Meyers, Chris Rock, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough…what a wild cast! I expected more.

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