A 1970s con artist jam that runs in equal measures thrilling and tedious, David O. Russell’s American Hustle fails at greatness but lands squarely at good. The centrepiece performance is Amy Adams as Sydney, girlfriend to Christian Bale’s Irving, with whom she runs a number of scams, including art forgery and financial shakedowns. When Bradley Cooper’s FBI agent nails them, he brokers a con of his own—help him take down four big marks and they’ll go free. They set their sights on Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner in a haircut doing his face no favours), beloved mayor of Camden NJ. Jennifer Lawrence is periodically dropped in like a firecracker as Irving’s unstable wife Rosalyn. As he did in Russell’s excellent The Fighter, Bale often drags the movie out of whack with his Method bullshit, but Adams really bites into Sydney, subverting her usual honey sweetness with hardscrabble ambition. When it slows it’s like molasses, but when it’s breezy, American Hustle is intoxicating.