A mood-setting piece thatâ€™s more about fearless redemption than gambling!
Off the bat, Iâ€™ve never seen Karel Reiszâ€™s 1974 version starring James Caan, so, I cannot lay out any comparisons. However, Rupert Wyatt (â€œRise of the Planet of the Apesâ€) does seem to have an interesting presentation enough to make me want to seek out the original and provide it a watch.
Truth be told, anyone who says there isnâ€™t an alluring appeal to gambling has probably never been in and/or around a casino setting. Itâ€™s an interesting environment where thereâ€™s no such thing as half-assing it. Youâ€™re either in, or out! No excuses. It elevates anxiety to levels only someone involved can explain, but thatâ€™s part of the package, along with orgasmic feelings of chest-pounding success if all goes according to plan. If you sink, well, you know itâ€™s a harsh reality and move on with nothing but haunting thoughts about money and how it basically runs everything and anything circulating around your life. Of course depending how deep youâ€™re in, it MAY also have your life up as collateral.
Literature professor by day, gambler by night, Jim Bennett’s (Mark Wahlberg) debt causes a whirlwind of harsh complexities as he struggles to overcome odds beyond his control.
Honestly, I donâ€™t know why â€œThe Gamblerâ€ title if the film really isnâ€™t about gambling per se. The subject-matter only seems to be peripheral as the actual story pretty much embarks on fearless redemption. The layout to this entire piece stems more on a self-loathing man (Bennett) whoâ€™s bothered by his life of wealth and privilege and luring him into a world of underdog survival, even if it isnâ€™t legally allowed. Taking up gambling as a side-gig from what he really does as a profession, his walk along the darker side of life links him to dangerous scenarios that ultimately lead up to him digging himself deeper into a hole of shit â€“ and one that my cause him his life.
Framed with a countdown clock, the film is filled with inevitable outcomes that entail threats from nudging bad-asses (Michael K. Williams, John Goodman, and Alvin Ing), and a layer of ease from those who seem to be his only way out (Brie Larson and Anthony Kelley). With a noiresq appeal, “The Gambler” has a mood that can be engaging, but loses grip on pacing, smeared with occasional clichÃ©s, and feeds off predictability. However, the strength in the film comes from solid performances, dialog, character objectives, and of course Mark Wahlberg â€“ whose tough-guy dialog, chiseled presentation, and stone cold appeal helps not only the character, but the film as a whole.
“The Gambler” isnâ€™t anything youâ€™ll wind up flipping over for, but it provides style, strength, and sketchy look into one of many forms of addiction that may find one hard to undo once youâ€™re in too deep.
Grade: B- / Genre: Remake, Suspense, Drama / Rated: R / Run Time: 1 Hr. 40 Min.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Brie Larson, Jessica Lange, John Goodman, Michael K. Williams
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt