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In Rome, after the abduction of a British tourist, the police inspector Anna Mari is contacted by the criminal, who self-entitles The Card Player, challenging the police department to dispute a video poker with him where the prize would be the life of the victim. The Chief of Police refuses to participate and the victim is tortured and killed in front of an Internet web cam. The British detective John Brennan is assigned to investigate the case and when another woman is kidnapped, they invite the addicted player Remo to play for the police. Anna and John lead the investigation trying to disclose who might be the serial-killer. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The role of the cop was intended for Mathieu Kassovitz but he withdrew when he was offered the chance to direct Gothika (2003). It was eventually given to Liam Cunningham and the name changed from John Russo to John Brennan. See more »
Dario Argento's latest thriller, The Card Player, is not Argento at his best, but still pretty good.
Stefania Rocca plays a detective trying to hunt down a serial killer who kills his victims after defeating the police in internet poker games. Liam Cunningham is the Irish cop assisting her.
This movie doesn't display much of Argento's visual creativity as his earlier films did and as a whole is quite different from any of his other films. For one thing there's no real gore to speak of. With the exception of a few grisly after the fact autopsies there's nothing here in that department since most of the killings take place off-screen. Instead Argento focuses on playing it straight, like almost deliberately trying to appeal to the mainstream. This could well be an American movie, except maybe for the hilarious dubbing here and there by supporting characters (but that's a trait one is so used to by now). As usual, the supporting actors don't deliver the goods but the two leads are quite excellent. Liam Cunningham really delivers in a cliché ridden role and Stefania Rocca shows she's got the goods (in all departments). If only the film had more of the "Argento-look" and feel, there's definitely something missing.
That said, this film does have it's good points, and a great touch here and there from the Italian maestro. A stalking sequence is a particular standout, quite unnerving and masterfully filmed. One character's tragic demise is deliciously grisly and the finale comes off as original and generally well played out.
All in all, a (completely) different Argento is still more interesting than most other directors out there, whether when trying to appeal to the mainstream or sticking to his trademark giallo's.
A terribly underrated thriller, deserves a higher rating.
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