The Gambler: Movie Review

“The Gambler” tries to be a deep and psychological thriller not only in terms of tackling the issue of gambling but life itself. The first few minutes might seem like it's working with a tense-filled game of Blackjack between our protagonist versus the house. But what’s apparent soon is that this is all smoke and mirrors as “The Gambler” fails to have a solid payoff and would leave you wondering what the heck was it all about in the first place.

Jim Bennet (Mark Wahlberg) is a literature professor with an all or nothing view on the world. This leads him to have a severe gambling addiction going all-in, every single time. When he destructively racks up a $240,000 debt from an underground Korean gambling ring and another $50,000 from a loan shark, Jim finds himself at a crossroad: to stop his ways and finally suck it up or have another shot at winning against everyone, against all odds.
The first thing that really pops with “The Gambler” is its cinematography and visuals. The film’s slick exterior was able to capture the tension, glory, hope, and pain that comes with gambling. You know, the part where you hope to win but most likely end up losing everything or the destructive path that one takes to try and win back whatever they lost only to lose more. It also greatly helps that the cast had memorable performances. Mark Wahlberg was in his game throughout the film’s run time. Too good in fact that his character frustrated us with his inept, suicidal-like logic (more on that later). While we would like to praise more about the film’s acting, unfortunately, aside from Wahlberg, pretty much everyone else had little screen time to really shine.
And this is where the film starts to get frustrating. Let’s just say that it is an incoherent mess. Nice visuals aside, these eye-candy filled scenes fail to jive together. What we get is an experience that fails to be grounded with the audience. We eventually get the importance of key characters but their roles into Jim’s descent into madness and possible triumph are never clear. Also, Jim as a lead was frustrating at best. We’re not sure if the film was trying to be realistic in its take on severe gambling addiction but Jim was outright crazy. He gambles away everything with little or no sense. From underground rings to legit casinos to sports betting, the only thing that the film did not show was online casinos. Eventually, the ending was the real crapper. Without spoiling much, it isn’t worth the 111 minute run time. It’s a good ending but what impact did it say about Jim’s development as a character? Nothing really.
Rating: 1 and a half reels

Why you should watch it:
- at its core, it has a lot to say about gambling and life itself

Why you shouldn’t watch it:
- an incoherent mess
- Jim’s character wins but learns nothing about his destructive ways

Post a Comment