A 'rounder' is someone who earns a living from winning at the poker tables, and Dahl's thriller introduces us to a myriad of smoky backrooms, illicit gambling dens and glitzy casinos from New York to Atlantic City. Damon plays a law student with excellent job prospects and a stable relationship with classmate Mol. But there he is, sneaking out of their flat in the dead of night, pockets filled with cash he's about to lose to Malkovich's Russian heavy. It's not the gambling bug that has bitten Damon, but the sense that his developing skill at poker represents his true calling in life. The last thing he needs, however, is the release from jail of his old buddy Norton, whose urgent need to pay off debts racked up inside places both young men in more peril than they ever anticipated. Powerhouse casting is the film's strong suit. Damon captivates the attention by underplaying at every turn, Malkovich luxuriates in an overstated Russian accent, Norton is suitably weasel-like, and sterling support comes from Landau and Turturro. The alternative universe in which they move is dazzlingly photographed by Jean-Yves Escoffier and given a smokin' score by Christopher Young. For all that, the end result is still short of a winning hand, since the screenplay is so utterly predictable.