Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Gambler Movie Review

Mark Wahlberg defies logic in The Gambler

Double or Nothing

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Jim Bennett (Academy Award 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 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.

Wahlberg "robs Peter to pay Paul" throughout The Gambler, a dark (and relatively disappointing) tale that could/should scare off even the most degenerate punters. Wahlberg's character is gaunt, kinda sleazy and unsympathetic: He mooches off his mom (a stellar Lange) and walks around with a death wish. Crazier still, bookies seem to love him (doesn't anyone break fingers anymore?) Larson's a cutie; and I loved George Kennedy's parting words to son Jim, "You're me now: If you'll have it." Other than that, I can only echo Larson's prophetic, "There's something wrong with everyone in here (casino.)