The Gambler

"OK"

The Gambler Review


With a strangely simplistic screenplay by William Monahan (The Departed), director Rupert Wyatt and his cast struggle to dig beneath the surface in a meaningful way. Mark Wahlberg does what he can in the lead role as a self-destructive gambling addict, but since he's never remotely likeable it's impossible to care what happens to him. It's decently made, but without strong characters or a resonant message the movie ultimately feels like a vanity project that's gone wrong somewhere along the way.

Wahlberg plays Jim, a swaggering university professor who torments his brightest student Amy (Larson) in front of the whole class. But she knows that he's also unable to pass a blackjack table without losing a small fortune. And it's probably money he owes to someone. Indeed, he's accruing such severe debts to a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) that he turns to his millionaire mother (Jessica Lange) for help, knowing that if she gives him the cash he'll gamble it away before settling his accounts. So he also turns to tough loan shark Frank (John Goodman), who stresses to Jim the importance of paying up and getting out of the betting world for good. But Jim seems incapable of even a shred of self-control.

It's virtually impossible to connect with a character this one-sided. Aside from his literary intelligence, there's nothing remotely redeeming about Jim, so it's difficult to escape the feeling that he's getting just what he deserves. And it gets worse when he starts romancing Amy, a nubile girl barely half his age. Wahlberg never plays Jim as anything but an unapologetic loser who has orchestrated his own misfortune. So why should we care what happens to him? At least the side characters interject a bit of complexity, most notably Lange and Goodman, who command the entire film with just a couple of scenes each. The usually terrific Larson barely registers in an underwritten role that makes very little logical sense.

Even with all of these problems, the film remains intriguing enough to hold the attention. Until, that is, it becomes clear that the screenplay is wrangling to get Jim out of his mess. Even the hint of that completely undermines the film's central point, turning this into a story about self-loathing rather than addiction. So Wyatt's stylish filmmaking and the muscular acting begin to feel utterly irrelevant. And it certainly doesn't help that Wyatt spends so much time trying to make card tables and basketball games interesting: two more things that never work on-screen.

 

The Gambler Trailer

 



The Gambler

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 25th December 2014

Box Office USA: $27.6M

Budget: $25M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Winkler Films, Paramount Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
Fresh: 38 Rotten: 47

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Rupert Wyatt

Producer: , , Stephen Levinson, David Winkler,

Starring: as Jim Bennett, as Roberta, as Frank, as Amy Phillips, as Neville Baraka, Da'Vone McDonald as Neville's Muscle, as Ed, Griffin Cleveland as Young Jim, Omar Leyva as Valet, Anthony Kelley as Lamar Allen, as Number 2, as Dexter, Chil Kong as Blackjack Dealer #1, as Neville's Bookkeeper, Cjon Saulsberry as Neville's Posse, Teebone Mitchell as Neville's Posse, Lauren Weedman as Banker

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