I watch stories, not movies (and that, rarely); nevertheless, I looked forward to American Hustle not for it's story but because of actors and a director I respect, plus it has over 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is usually a promising factor.
And while the movie was technically well done all around, I could not enjoy it for a basic story-level reason: a general lack of characters to care about.
Other than Jeremy Renner's character, there are no heroes in the movie—I don't mean a classic hero, but someone to care for, someone trying to do something good or respectable. I noted a few surface-level good intention, always masking some deeper narcissism or corruption.
It's interesting to note how even an unlikable character like Sherlock can draw us in so long as we believe they have nobility and loyalty to their friends. Contrast that with Walter White of Breaking Bad—an overall likable character for several seasons who ultimately loses the viewers respect when he finally admits he did it all for the power, not for his family as he had claimed all along.
(Now, I will note a little redemption when a few of the characters changed their ways in the end, but the movie had built up so much apathy in me, that the ending was dulled by that point. The movie did try to show them progressing towards this end, but it failed in a too-little sense.)
So a technically brilliant and well acted movie with otherwise strong story elements and top notch story construction can leave a viewer apathetic simply because there was no one to care for? Absolutely.
Writer of speculative fiction. Current work in progress is an untitled dark fantasy novella.