Dendy Brighton, 07/02 4:20pm
Running time: 111m
Country: United States
Classification: MA15+ (Strong coarse language)
Release date: 05/02/15
Cost: $10 (Optus Rewards)
Rating: 3/10 (ME 2.5/5, DP 0.5/5)
A house of cards
(ME) The Gambler follows a week in the life of Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), academic and problem gambler, as he struggles with his addiction and a debt that is spiralling out of control. As he lurches from one dodgy deal to another we meet a supporting cast of shady characters, offering him a way deeper in rather than a way out. The plot, inspired by the 1974 film of the same name, is engaging enough but the script is awkward and filled to the brim with cliches. Despite being on screen for most of the film, there isn't nearly enough character development for Wahlberg's Bennett. The supporting cast (including Jessica Lange and John Goodman) don't add much depth to the story and their characters are little more than bland stereotypes. The film has the perfect gritty look and feel about it and the visual design complements the plot. However the saddest aspect of this film is that there are clear signs that it could've been much better than it turned out to be.
Player wins, audience doesn't
(DP) Oh dear, there's really not a lot I can say about this one. I actually found it excruciating. It might have been a whole lot better if they actually based it on the Kenny Rogers song of the same name...and Kenny could have starred in it (and done a better job than Marky Mark). Perhaps he could be called in as script consultant if they ever decide to make Coward of the County as a sequel.
The plot of this film was hard to follow as we jumped from one disjointed scene to the next (it actually felt like some important material may have been edited out). The dialogue was at times pompous; I did think that this may have been an attempt at utilising the technique of soliloquy (as a reference to Shakepeare, discussed early in the movie) but I suspect that this was more coincidence or accident, than clever use of a dramatic tool. At other times the script, as recited by the parade of clichéd characters, was just plain dull. It was impossible to feel any empathy for the main protagonist...or anything at all for that matter. I wanted to love him, or hate him, but in reality I felt a lot more strongly about some of the furniture choices in his apartment. What could have been a great remake was presented as something bland and forgettable...a terrible shame.