Alan Dee’s film preview: Hustle if you’re young, head to Vegas if you’re old

Painstaking period detail, lots of star names, a rollicking tale of cross and double cross – what’s not to like about David O. Russell’s latest?

After building himself a real reputation as an intelligent film-maker who still serves up serious entertainment with recent successes The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, the current darling of the directors uses top talent from those films in a ‘based on real events’ story of 1970s con artists and conspiracies in American Hustle.

American Hustle

American Hustle

Christian Bale is the con man at the heart of the story, with Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence the women in his life at work and at home.

Bradley Cooper is the loopy government man who forces them to put their criminal talents at his disposal and Robert de Niro makes an almost obligatory appearance in a film which has been compared favourably with the likes of Goodfellas and Boogie Nights for its taut structure and impeccable period feel.

Robert de Niro also makes his mark in Last Vegas, another of those concept projects aimed at the older viewer.

Michael Douglas is getting on a bit and finally decides to get married, which is the cue for him to recruit old pals De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline for a stag do in Vegas that they’ll never forget, even if they are all old enough to be getting a bit fuzzy in the memory department.

It’s an obvious comedy and everyone seems to be having a good time, but there’s every chance that as the credits roll you’ll be asking yourself: “Now what did I come in here for?”

There’s another cast link into the third big film of the week – Morgan Freeman has played Nelson Mandela on screen in the past, and now it’s time for Idris Elba to fill those giant shoes.

The news that the legendary figure had died famously broke on the night that Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom received its premiere, and you can’t help but feel that the wall to wall coverage of the man’s life and achievements that followed could kill interest in this biopic stone dead.

The story will hold no surprises to anyone who read a newspaper or watched a TV bulletin in the weeks following Mandela’s passing, which is a problem, but Elba is undoubtedly impressive in this respectful and respectable telling of a remarkable life.