Jim Bennett (Academy Award (R)-nominee Mark Wahlberg) is a risk taker. Both an English professor and a high-stakes gambler, Bennett bets it all when he borrows from a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) and offers his own life as collateral. Always one step ahead, Bennett pits his creditor against the operator of a gambling ring (Alvin Ing) and leaves his dysfunctional relationship with his wealthy mother (Academy Award (R)-winner Jessica Lange) in his wake. He plays both sides, immersing himself in an illicit, underground world while garnering the attention of Frank (John Goodman), a loan shark with a paternal interest in Bennett’s future. As his relationship with a student (Brie Larson) deepens, Bennett must take the ultimate risk for a second chance… (C) Paramount
The Gambler remake is a stylish, adult skewing thriller we didn’t ask for on Christmas and doesn’t fit the mood of the Holiday. I didn’t understand the timing of the release behind this. It seems last minute and rushed. At times, The Gambler is a multi-layered character study focusing on Jim Bennett who balances both English teaching and gambling. His students, who see his other side, put his professional career and life at risk. We keep waiting for things to happen in The Gambler without the payoff of risking our time and money.
My issue with The Gambler wasn’t Mark Wahlberg. He was very good in a rare display of his true talent. Keep up good work like this. Likewise, John Goodman was terrific in his outstanding supporting role. I wish he was in more of the movie and more movies in general. Besides these performances, I didn’t find this movie very engaging. Brie Larson wasn’t utilized to her potential we have seen in Short Term 12 or even Don Jon for that matter. We meander through the plot to get to a big moments that don’t really pay off. (I did like the climax revolving around an important basketball game.)
This is the fifth movie adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Gambler. This version felt like a pointless journey that needed a modern adaptation. Director Rupert Wyatt (2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes) and writer William Monahan (The Departed) collaborate for this crime drama that should not have been this disappointing. All the talent interjected in the movie left to mixed results. It is still a good movie that avoids greatness. It is such a shame it doesn’t reach higher.
I rate The Gambler a 6 out of 10.