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The Gambler

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The original 1974 version of 'The Gambler' benefitted from both James Toback’s tight, original script and the fully believable gambling addiction of high-flying star James Caan. Four decades later, the same story, adapted by William Monahan ('The Departed') and directed by Rupert Wyatt ('Rise of the Planet of the Apes') feels tired, egocentric and a touch false. Partly that's because we’re supposed to accept Mark Wahlberg as Jim, an English-literature professor with a secret life. His cynical monologues to his students – at one point, delivered from a defeated position lying on his desk – bear little resemblance to the modern-day classroom. But there are other problems: this version’s shadowy Las Vegas underworld and convenient adoring female student (Brie Larson, who deserves better) both play like clichés.

Still, there’s a nauseating appeal to watching a player lose fat stacks of chips – and the winning is fun too. Jim's self-destructiveness is better articulated by the fine actors around Wahlberg, especially Jessica Lange as his wealthy, disgusted mother and John Goodman as a furious loan shark. Both see Jim as a little boy in a big pool; audiences who love recent gambling-addiction tales like 'Rounders' or 'Owning Mahowny' will have even less patience.

Written by Joshua Rothkopf

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 23 January 2015
  • Duration:111 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Rupert Wyatt
  • Screenwriter:William Monahan
  • Cast:
    • Mark Wahlberg
    • Brie Larson
    • Jessica Lange
    • John Goodman
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