Showing posts with label Jessica Lange. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jessica Lange. Show all posts

20 January 2015

Film Review - The Gambler (2014)

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Crime, Drama, Thriller
Paramount Pictures
Release Date:
23rd January 2015 (UK)
Rating: 15
Ruper Wyatt
Mark Whalberg, John Goodman, Jessica Lange, Brie Larsson, Michael Kenneth Williams, Gordon Kennedy

Rupert Wyatt’s remake of the 1974 drama, The Gambler serves up little justification for its existence beyond a few decent all-or-nothing moments of gambling insanity. Occasionally fun, often embarrassing, this stalled-then-revived Scorsese pet project gets bogged down with inane dialogue and the questionable casting of its leading man.

Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) lands himself in a whole heap of debt after blowing his wad in a casino owned by a Korean gang. His plan to extricate himself from his financial mess involves borrowing even more money and gambling that in a double-or-quits spin of the roulette wheel. He loses and ends up owing over $300,000 with 7 days to pay or be whacked.

There’s certainly some joy to be had watching Walhberg’s laissez-fare, addict attempt to gamble his way out of debt, grinding himself further into the ground and slowly towards his apparent doom. Despite the sleazy giddiness of the gambling scenes though, there’s a fundamental problem with this daft betting drama.

If your protagonist is a self-destructive gambling addict then, yes, by all means cast Mark Wahlberg in that role. If your protagonist is also an author and associate professor of English literature at a university, then for God’s sake don’t hand that role to a former rapper and underwear model. Wahlberg’s performance in this provides no real evidence to suggest that he has ever read a book, never mind written one. As he blathers on about Shakespeare and the source of genius, you start to seriously doubt the wisdom of any college dean who would place Wahlberg’s remote, depressed and wildly idiotic lecturer in charge of the sculpting of young literary minds.

There are laudable supporting performances from Jessica Lange, John Goodman and Michael K Williams, but these too are often hamstrung by moments of incredulity. An expletive-laden conversation between Goodman and Walhberg about the joys of saying “fuck you” to your enemies seems to veer into Lynchian moments of arch-surrealism. Williams, in a moment of baffling,

childlike optimism, proudly boasts his intention to quit the crime racket, go straight and establish an avocado farm. It’s exchanges like those which draw attention to the vein of absurdity running through the whole film and mark it out as a bit of a busted flush.

Chris Banks