Lit professor and gambler Jim Bennett's debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark. Further complicating his situation is his relationship with one of his students. Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance?
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The inside story of the planning, execution, rousing aftermath and ultimate downfall of the kidnappers of beer tycoon Alfred "Freddy" Heineken, which resulted in the largest ransom ever paid for an individual.
Jim Bennett is a risk taker. Both an English professor and a high-stakes gambler, Bennett bets it all when he borrows from a gangster and offers his own life as collateral. Always one step ahead, Bennett pits his creditor against the operator of a gambling ring and leaves his dysfunctional relationship with his wealthy mother in his wake. He plays both sides, immersing himself in an illicit, underground world while garnering the attention of Frank, a loan shark with a paternal interest in Bennett's future. As his relationship with a student deepens, Bennett must take the ultimate risk for a second chance... Written by
The Gambler tells the story of Jim Bennett, a college professor with a dangerous and self destructive addiction to gambling at underground casinos in the underbelly of Los Angeles. His addiction soon begins to effect his professional and personal life to severe and deadly consequences. The Gambler features great performances from Mark Wahlberg and Jessica Lange along with flashy and stylish direction from Rupert Wyatt. Much like the 1974 original, The Gambler is very much so a character study. We see Wahlberg's Jim Bennett in every scene, and see him make every bet, lose every hand and blow every dollar without shying away from Wahlberg. This is a new, transformed and extremely mature performance from Mark Wahlberg. He is in top form here, delivering a career best performance along with the physicality of a twig. It is certainly a better portrayal of a teacher than what we see in 2008's horrendous misfire The Happening. When we see Wahlberg in The Gambler he loses himself in long monologues that never once will make you question his validity in this part. The supporting cast features Brie Larson, Jessica Lange and John Goodman. Each give amazing performances, especially Goodman who steals some scenes from Wahlberg with colorful monologues filled with expletives and subtext that is classic William Monohan but it does grow tiring after awhile. The screenplay written by Oscar winner William Monohan is far from a perfect script but it is very interesting and keeps your attention. It doesn't pack the punch The Departed did, but it gets the job done. Rupert Wyatt proves that not only can he do a big budget action spectacle as Rise of the Planet of the Apes but he can also deliver hard hitting drama. My only issue was that Martin Scorsese is such a huge influence here in filmmaking style that you start to wonder what it would be like if Wyatt just stuck to his own style instead of trying to capture something that is clearly above his talent because it does backfire on multiple occasions especially during its Hollywood-fueled finale. For a film as dark as The Gambler, the ending just simply doesn't fit and feels more like a studio ending rather than something that would be true to the film and true to the original vibe of it all. Overall, The Gambler is a fitting remake that fails to capture the essence of the original but displays Mark Wahlberg in a career changing performance that shouldn't be missed.
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