Film Review – The Gambler (2014)

Gamb - post

Title – The Gambler (2014)

Director – Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)

Cast – Mark Wahlberg, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Jessica Lange, Michael Kenneth Williams

Plot – Professor and writer Jim Bennett (Wahlberg) finds himself with 7 days to pay off huge gambling debts to an array of shady criminal figures that sees him seek rescue using his rich mother Roberta (Lange) and unforgiving loan shark Frank (Goodman).

 “What you got on you?”

Review by Eddie on 29/05/2015

With stylish direction by proven performer Rupert Wyatt and with the exciting prospect of Marky Mark reteaming with his Departed scribe William Monahan, this remake of the low key 1974 James Caan starring film of the same name should’ve been a sleeper hit and a film brimming with energy and smarts, but sadly what seemed like a sure bet is something more akin to a watchable 100 minutes of film that’s filled to the brim with a bunch of unlikeable and un-relatable group of characters.

The Gambler clearly had ambitions of grandeur and it’s release window last year suggested that many involved in the project saw sneaky award nominations coming its way, whether for Wahlberg’s somewhat stripped back performance (even though his trademark run still makes an epic last dash appearance), John Goodman’s walrus like supporting turn or for Monahan’s bitting and expletive riddled script. These awards were never to eventuate and while Wyatt continues on his hot directional streak following on from his great debut The Escapist and his fantastic blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes, he struggles to make us feel for the often downright nasty inhabitants of his cash bag strewn morality tale.

It will be hard for viewers to not thoroughly dislike Wahlberg’s well off literature professor Jim Bennett and his continued bad decisions; watching Jim is like watching a slow motion train wreck and his often prone to more emotional wailing than your average Dashboard Confessional groupie. It’s not to say Wahlberg’s performance is bad, his actually quite good but Jim is just a guy we don’t feel for as we should as he is without doubt, his own worst enemy. Another fatal flaw to the film that is detrimental to it becoming anything more than ok is a wasted support cast that gives long servers John Goodman and Jessica Lange little to do and future star Brie Larson is laboured with the films worst role as student Amy.

Saved by its good direction, this is a well filmed and sharply edited movie that’s also the recipient of a strong last act. The Gambler is a solid, if unspectacular remake that floats by on a strong concept that never eventuates into what it so easily could’ve become. For fans of Wahlberg this will become a new favourite and for the rest of us, a fine way to spend a weeknight with a highly forgettable yet easy on the eyes thriller.

3 zip bagged wads of cash out of 5

5 responses to “Film Review – The Gambler (2014)

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