Written by / 12/27/2014 / No comments / , , , , ,

REMAKE OF 'THE GAMBLER' (2014)

year: 2014 rating: **
THE GAMBLER 2014: Certain iconic movies you just can’t remake. Others shouldn’t but it still happens. Yet there are some that could use a transformation...

Like James Toback's slowburn character-study starring James Caan. While not a bad film, it definitely lacked the spontaneous intrigue of Robert Altman’s poker flick CALIFORNIA SPLIT or John Cassavete's Shylock indie THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE and could have used more edge, like Martin Scorsese's MEAN STREETS: Ironically, this remake was initially optioned by Scorsese to star Leonardo DiCaprio, which fell through and subsequently went to director Rupert Wyatt and leading man Mark Wahlberg, and, in this NEW GAMBLER, Wahlberg’s Jim Bennett is a sort of grungy James Bond with a license to... gamble, and not always wisely. When he isn't laying down the Blackjack cards or betting black on roulette, he's got a day job as a professor of literature: Scenes in the classroom lead to a love interest side-story with a pretty and talented writing student. As a teacher and reluctant author, Wahlberg does a believable job but his intense diatribes don’t connect with the story. Ironically, we spend more time in the lecture hall than where we should be.

Mark Wahlberg
With a title like THE GAMBLER there needed more scenes of… gambling...

year: 2014 rating: **
Although the few pivotal times he does play Blackjack, the direction is taut and suspenseful, allowing the audience to suffer the aahs and oohs of each card flipped – meanwhile, the title character calls the shots like he knows the score, even when he loses everything.

Surrounded by three opposing bookies, none seem as dangerous to Bennett as he is to himself. Talking a big game about reckless abandon, we never catch even a glimpse of what’s ticking under the surface. In an ambiguous Neo Noir template, perhaps it's intentional that he keep more inside than we're allowed to perceive from his exterior: a cinematic poker face, as it were. But with so much potential insight into a gambler dead set on winning and losing everything in one shot, a few answers would have added flesh to a character that, for the most part, sleepwalks through disaster. AND CLICK HERE FOR THE REVIEW OF THE ORIGINAL GAMBLER STARRING JAMES CAAN.
James Woods as a weenie banker with James Caan in THE GAMBLER
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