American Hustle (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

american hustleI often see films that seem to ooze a lot of cool and pizazz, regardless of substance, from directors I enjoy. My go-to example of this tends to be Steven Soderbergh and Ocean’s Eleven. What helps is how that film and others like it also have a collection of actors turning in solid work, even amid a story that is more about having a fun time. American Hustle, from director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter), has this vibe. Loosely based on a story, it’s been about a decade since I last watched the film, but revisiting the film now on its new 4K UHD release, the confidence in the filmmaking remains, even if it really doesn’t add up to a whole lot.


american hustle

(Note: This review was originally published on December 13, 2013.)

The story is set in late 70s/early 80s New Jersey and New York.  It is a crime-comedy-caper film, using the real-life FBI ABSCAM operation as a main part of the plot.  Christian Bale stars as Irving Rosenfeld, a skilled con man who falls for an equally cunning woman, Sydney (Amy Adams). The two pull off many easy cons together but are eventually forced to work for the FBI after being trapped by Agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).  DiMaso wants to use Irving and Sydney to capture various corrupt officials and mafiosi. They will accomplish this through the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner).  The plan should work, given the talent of the grifters involved. Still, testing the strengths of these different relationships will get in the way…along with the unpredictable presence of Irving’s wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence).

Let’s get this out of the way right now, my title does not suggest Christian Bale is bad in this film, but rather that he is not made out to be as attractive as his co-stars, despite being quite charismatic and providing another lived-in performance, on the heels of his work in Out of the Furnace. Here is an actor who gained 40 pounds and wore an “elaborate” combover to get into the mind of a con man. Bale is known for going to these kinds of lengths for roles. I am not about to say this surpasses all of them. Still, I cannot deny that Bale continues to be impressive in the way he morphs into different characters. A lot of similar praise can go to the other actors as well.

Read the rest of this review HERE.



american hustle

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: Russell knows how to make a movie, and he has very good people to work with, which already made the Blu-ray release impressive. This 4K upgrade outdoes it, allowing viewers to see every piece of detail that went into creating the 70s period depicted in this film. This incredibly clear transfer allows viewers to look at all the intricate details, from the hairs in Bale’s combover to the sequins on various dresses.

Depth: There is plenty to appreciate about the sense of depth here, as we see people moving all over the frame during various arguments, adding to the sense of dimensionality.

Black Levels: There are a lot of indoor settings and nighttime scenes that speak to seeing an optimal amount of steady black levels, and it’s true. No sign of crushing.

Color Reproduction: This movie is about making the glamorous and unglamorous seem equally glitzy. We spend most of the time in fancy locations with characters dressed to the nines. As a result, there’s plenty of pop in all the colors on display, and the film is all the better for it.

Flesh Tones: Rich textures allow facial close-ups and detail to shine.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing in sight.



Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English DTS-HD TrueHD 7.1, Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Español

Dynamics: Sony doesn’t disappoint with its Dolby Atmos track. Plenty of work goes into the various settings, with the film supplying so much music, dialogue, and more to fill out the audio levels.

Height: It’s the bounce of all the dialogue that feels like the most apparent aspect here. It all functions as a way to help deliver a well-rounded audio experience.

Low-Frequency Extension: The LFE output is strong enough for the score and music selections without overshadowing what’s taking place.

Surround Sound Presentation: All the speakers have a chance to shine here. As the film builds toward its various confrontation scenes, there’s plenty to enjoy in how it understands space and how to use it on an audio level.

Dialogue Reproduction: All the shouting is clear.



Along with the previously released featurette and deleted scenes, this 10th Anniversary Edition features another 15 minutes worth of extra footage. It’s is a nice touch to go along with this steelbook release.

Features Include:

  • NEW Nearly 15 Minutes of Never-Before-Seen Deleted & Extended Scenes (4K Disc, HD, 14:57)
  • Theatrical Trailer (4K Disc, HD, 2:24)
  • 11 Deleted and Extended Scenes (Blu-ray Disc, HD, 22:24)
  • The Making of American Hustle (Blu-ray Disc, HD, 17:01) – A standard look behind the scenes that features cast and crew interviews who delve into the production and ideas behind the movie.
  • Blu-ray Copy of the Film
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film



While few films of this kind are ever truly forgotten, American Hustle is the sort of splashy con man comedy-drama that made a big impression at the time, scoring a ton of Oscar nominations in the process (and losing every one of them) but hasn’t retained much staying power. Perhaps it’s because all the stars have other major films on their hands, but that doesn’t mean this film doesn’t know how to have fun. People can at home now, too, as the 4K release boasts impressive sound and visuals to accompany its smattering of extras. Certainly worth some attention.

Order Your Copy Here:

american hustle


Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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