Thursday, December 25, 2014

"The Gambler" Review - Written by Tim Hellman

'THE GAMBLER': Four Stars (Out of Five)

Remake to the 1974 high-stakes crime drama flick, of the same name, starring James Caan. This film stars Mark Wahlberg as a lit professor with a secret, obsessive, gambling addiction. It was written by William Monahan, who also co-wrote 'THE DEPARTED', and directed by Rupert Wyatt, who also helmed 'RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES' (which is funny given the fact that Wahlberg also starred in Tim Burton's 2001 'PLANET OF THE APES' remake). The movie costars Brie Larson, John Goodman, Michael K. Williams and Jessica Lange. None of the characters are very likable (especially it's lead) but the film is beautifully shot and full of clever, witty dialogue.

Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett; a literature professor with a second (hidden) life as a high-stakes gambler. He's recently gotten himself into some serious trouble with local gangsters, due to his gambling addiction and excessive accrued debt. While trying to pay back the dangerous criminals, he also tries out an intriguing relationship with one of his students (Larson). No matter how much danger he keeps putting himself into, and loved ones, he still can never stop gambling.

The film is a lot like a serious drama flick about a self destructive alcoholic, or anyone with a dangerous addiction. It's extremely depressing, and frustrating, in how Wahlberg's Bennett character can't stop gambling; no matter how much damage it does to him or anyone close to him. For that reason I could never truly like Bennett but I did continue to root for him (of course). Although most of the characters in the movie are all pretty morally depraved, it is still a fast paced and impressively suspenseful film. Wahlberg is great in it, Larson is beautiful and stunning to watch, the dialogue is always fun, and interesting, and the visuals are consistently beautiful to look at (as well). It's almost always entertaining but definitely not a feel-good movie.

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