Cinema review: The Gambler

Mark Whalberg in a 'slow, nonsensical, and not at all compelling' remake

Mark Wahlberg in The Gambler.

Mark Wahlberg in The Gambler.

AN UNNECESSARY and boring remake halts what has been a sensational month of film in which each passing week has produced, if not a great movie, at least one worth going to see.

Directed by Rupert Wyatt, who made the surprisingly brilliant Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011 - a movie that was better than it had any right to be. Wyatt was originally attached to direct the sequel but, for some weird reason, wanted to make this film more.

Mark Wahlberg plays English professor (I know, I know ) Jim Bennett, who is also a spoiled rich author with a serious gambling problem. Furthermore he is one of those movie ‘teachers’ who do not exist in real life, like Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society.

Instead of teaching the syllabus he stands on tables and shouts existential questions at his students. Think about how much money people pay to go to college in America and now imagine that you get Marky Mark yelling nonsensical questions at you? How are the students not furious? He also up to his eyes in debt and has been given a time table of seven days to pay it back. So Bennett turns to a loan shark and his family for money, which he tries to turn into more money, by gambling.

Great plan there obviously. Well it’s not as easy as he hoped and you don’ t have to be Rainman to see Jim Bennett might be the worst gambler I’ve seen in any film. Now fair enough he plays a nihilist and a spoiled brat but it makes no sense for him to barely understand the rules of blackjack. He also happens to be insanely unlikeable to the viewer but beloved by every character in the movie. They are falling over themselves to give him money - ridiculous.

The Gambler does have some quality cameos. Jessica Lange is terrific as Jim’s mother. For the last few years she has been winning awards for her performances in American Horror Story and it is great to see her back in film, but she is completely wasted and limited to three or four scenes. John Goodman also shines as a menacing loan shark. He has always been great playing a villain and I wish he would do it more.

Other good cameos from Wire alumni from Michael K Williams and Domenick Lombardozzi give the movie at least something to watch, but do not make up for what is a lazy, uninspiring, remake. It also has a really fantastic soundtrack, however with such great movies available in the cinema I wouldn’t bother with this one. Slow, nonsensical, and not at all compelling.


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