Two For The Money

Does Al Pacino get better offers but wilfully turn them down in favour of under-par Hollywood fare that allows him the security of delivering another typical ‘Pacino’ performance – ie charming, heavy-eyed and shouty? Here, Pacino plays Walter Abrams, a New York sports-betting magnate (his firm offers advice to gamblers for cash) who thrives off the cut-and-thrust of his business while struggling to keep at bay his own addictive leanings and an increasing threat of heart failure (he wheezes and clutches his chest a lot). A bubbling paternal instinct (a strange theme this one, entirely unexplained) drives him to hire and nurture young Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey), an injured American footballer who Abrams plucks from a Vegas call-centre to become his new star employee under the alter-ego ‘John Anthony’. Together, they host a weekly TV show and the money rolls in, at least for a while…

‘Two for the Money’ presents a wild corruption of the sporting dream that’s so revered by American cinema – but does so in confused, cluttered and uninspiring fashion. Clearly the hope was that the character of Walter Abrams would win through, but the sub-‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ dialogue comes across as too arch and sounds like it’s been written especially for a Pacino-for-hire performance: ‘You’re small, Jerry,’ shouts Walter. ‘You belong in a can.’ The film’s morality is all skewed too. How can we feel sorry for the poor sucker whose gambling habits have dragged him into poverty and for Abrams, whose own greed leads him to a dark place when the dream fades? Come on, Pacino, we deserve better!

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday March 10 2006
Duration: 122 mins

Cast and crew

Director: DJ Caruso
Screenwriter: Dan Gilroy
Cast: Al Pacino
Matthew McConaughey
Rene Russo
Armand Assante
Jeremy Piven
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