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Player 5150 - Delivers a Gripping Action-Based Drama
Player 5150 is a great film for the authenticity it brings to screen. A rare gem in the rough. By comparison to all the special-effect driven overblown budged movies being released today, Player 5150 is a character-driven story that takes you through every range of emotion. David O'Neill (Writer/Director) does a great job inviting you, no daring you, to identify with the main character Joey, (Ethan Embry) who is a compulsive gambler and whose life is about to spin out of control. As you do, you experience a taste of that "unique rush of excitement" that a real gambler feels when they are up and are winning, but when luck runs out, the finality of what it means to lose hits home and the darker side of gambling emerges.
Enter Tony (Christopher McDonald) a ruthless no non-sense loan shark. In my opinion, I thought McDonald delivered an award winning performance along with Bob Gunton (Nick) in showing the raw, gritty, and sadistic reality found on the losing side of the coin of gambling. Where gamblers gamble for the thrill and the rush, loan sharks are about greed. As you travel along at 200 mph with Joey in the fast-lane of a gambler's life, McDonald is the proverbial brick-wall-reality-check smiling sadistically back at you as you slam into him. A gripping performance was delivered also by Kathleen Robertson (Ali), who played Joey's wife giving us insight on what it is like being in love with someone who has a self-destructive addiction.
My only criticism would be about the ending. I felt that this movie could have had any number of endings and it would have been alright, but it seemed like an ending couldn't be decide upon so they creatively worked them all in somehow. For me, it made the ending fuzzy and gray instead of a bold clear contrast which made the rest of the movie gripping and powerful.
As an overall experience, I enjoyed watching the movie very much. It kept you constantly leaning forward in anticipation of what would happen next. If you enjoy fast-pace action-drama and character-driven stories, then highly recommend Player 5150 as it delivers.
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