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The Gambler

6/10
Drama . Crime . Thriller
 

Literature 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?

 
Actors: Anthony Kelley , Omar Leyva , Griffin Cleveland , George Kennedy , Da'Vone McDonald , Jessica Lange , Michael Kenneth Williams , Brie Larson , John Goodman , Mark Wahlberg
Directors: Rupert Wyatt
Country: USA
Release: 2014-12-25
More Info:
  • Drew McWeeny

    This is a film that is quietly confident. Everything's well-composed. Everything's put together right. There's a very sure hand on the wheel here, and at this point, I'm sold on Rupert Wyatt as a guy who can tell a story with a certain kind of intelligence, both towards his subject and towards his audience.

    HitFix Full Review
  • Jordan Hoffman

    This spiral of self-imposed despair feels like part three of a trilogy of American financial darkness after Killing Them Softly and The Counsellor. The Gambler isn’t quite so audience-unfriendly, but those looking for a typical Wahlberg thriller might come away disappointed. Others looking for a less sure bet might reap the rewards.

    The Guardian Full Review
  • Rene Rodriguez

    The new version uses addiction as a vehicle to tackle larger themes, eloquently explored by Monahan’s dialogue, which sings in a way uncommon to tough-guy crime-dramas.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    The 2014 iteration isn't as good as its 1974 predecessor but it offers its share of small pleasures, not the least of which is the crisp, sharp dialogue that never loses its punch even when it veers close to the edge of pretentiousness.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    Actually, Mom is the essential difference between Wahlberg and Caan. Caan has the glow of mother love on him. Wahlberg plays Jim as having made the adjustment to a lack of love, but in a twisted way. He's gambling now to see if the universe loves him.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    Dialogue, we seem to have forgotten, matters, and the words — by the brutally funny screenwriter of “The Departed,” William Monahan — are electric eels, slithering and sinister and nasty. They sneak up and sting you, or sometimes tickle your toes. Lowlifes don’t actually talk this way? Yeah. But if only they did.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Michael Nordine

    For all the hundreds of thousands of dollars being thrown around, The Gambler is much closer to a friendly game of poker with some loquacious, quick-witted friends than a glimpse at the gambling world’s dark underbelly. Neither is it a preachy moral tale.

    indieWIRE Full Review
  • Bilge Ebiri

    Wahlberg grows into the part. He may not be right as a precocious, self-loathing intellectual, but he's very much at home playing a dickhead who's gotten in too deep. And as The Gambler becomes less about its protagonist’s dashed intellectualism and more about the gathering danger of his predicament, the film gains power.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    The pleasures offered by The Gambler are simple, but don’t hold that against it. Wyatt, director of the 2011 surprise hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes, brings some bristly, swaggering energy to the thing, and that in turn may have loosened Wahlberg up: He’s both more intense and freer than he’s been in years.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Scott Tobias

    Wyatt is a supremely confident filmmaker. His style is multitudes sleeker than Reisz’s original, but his eclectic taste, particularly in the soundtrack, reveals a true connection to the earlier era.

    The Dissolve Full Review
  • Todd McCarthy

    In nearly every scene, Wahlberg carries off the central role with what could be called determined elan.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Jeff Baker

    Wahlberg's The Gambler is California Lite.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Marc Savlov

    Wahlberg brings an intense, often internalized performance to a wickedly written role, and while he’s no James Caan, he’s certainly able to infuse this mesmerizing character study with enough rancid brio to make this self-flagellating hustler believably doomstruck.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • A.A. Dowd

    In any case, none of the gambles Jim makes over the course of the movie are as ballsy as the film’s casting strategy. Will audiences really buy Mark Wahlberg as a wordsmith too brilliant for academia? Smart money says no.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Tirdad Derakhshani

    If Mark Wahlberg's new pic, The Gambler, feels like a stale rehash of existential tropes, that's because it is.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Calvin Wilson

    Wahlberg is merely OK. Unfortunately, the film’s effectiveness turns on whether we buy into his angst. And Larson has very little to play. But Goodman and Williams are believably menacing, and Lange is perfect as Bennett’s mom of steel.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Richard Roeper

    Wahlberg has grown so much as an actor we can pretty much buy him as a college professor/author. There’s just not enough depth to the character of Jim, and not much of a story arc.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    As meaty as this script sounds — every line another morsel — it never allows Wahlberg the chance to make us care what happens to Jim. Do we want him to get what’s coming to him, or are we rooting for him? Either way, Wyatt, Monahan and Wahlberg succeed only in frustrating our will, cashing out with a cop-out finale, making our two hour gamble on The Gambler something less than a sure thing.

    Tribune News Service Full Review
  • Ian Freer

    A rare grown up thriller, full of interesting bits and a strong turn from Wahlberg. But as a whole Wyatt’s film doesn’t grip as it might.

    Empire Full Review
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    Some fragments of that Dostoevskian romance linger on here: Just enough so that Wyatt and Wahlberg nail the climactic scene, when Jim is literally playing for his life, and make it momentarily seem to mean something. But not quite enough that you’ll remember what that something might be the next day.

    Salon.com Full Review
  • Joshua Rothkopf

    This version’s shadowy Las Vegas underworld and convenient adoring female coed (Brie Larson, who deserves better) play like clichés.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Elizabeth Weitzman

    Understatement is one of Mark Wahlberg’s greatest assets. But that admirable trait winds up working against him in The Gambler, Rupert Wyatt’s otherwise intriguing dramatic thriller.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Steve Persall

    Director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) doesn't match the feverish nature of Karel Reisz's original, and the gambling sequences convey the sameness of a habit but not as much tension to it.

    Tampa Bay Times Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Wyatt keeps the action coming at a fast clip, but watching Jim repeatedly pursue a path of self-destruction for reasons never made clear grows wearying.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Odie Henderson

    The Gambler should have been called “Three Supporting Characters in Search of a Lead.” A gaunt Mark Wahlberg stares out from the poster, his name is above the title, and he’s in almost every frame of this remake, but his character may as well be non-existent.

    RogerEbert.com Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    Mr. Wyatt’s direction is smooth, although he’s more confident, and the movie more convincing, when he goes for baroque with the story’s excesses.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Mark Olsen

    Wyatt, Monahan and Wahlberg never seem quite settled on what they want to say with the character or the story, so the film feels marked not by ambiguity but uncertainty.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    Full of post-hippie fatalism and cynical macho barroom existentialism, the original film feels very much of its era, and the remake anachronistic.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Steve Macfarlane

    The filmmakers delve into a fantasyland of luxe coastal casinos and neon-lit bathhouses--as shrug-worthy a stab at picturing the contemporary black market as could be requested.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Charlie Schmidlin

    A genre exercise such as this needs invention, and while Wyatt trots out a slick stamp on proceedings with a game cast, his version never works up steam enough to render the effort worthwhile.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Justin Chang

    A movie of slick, surface-level pleasures that’s unpersuasive at its core.

    Variety Full Review
  • Alonso Duralde

    A cover version is pretty much what this do-over of The Gambler represents, with the rougher edges mixed out and sweetened. It's no mystery why actors and directors want to relive the magic of American studio movies from the fabled 1970s, but if you're not going to take the risks that the originals did, or illuminate as much about the characters, why redo them at all?

    TheWrap Full Review
  • Chris Nashawaty

    The one bit of good news is that the first Gambler is currently streaming on Netflix. Do yourself a favor and watch that one instead.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Barbara VanDenburgh

    You can't get close to Bennett — not because he's a morally ambiguous character, as the movie would have you believe, but because he never puts anything on the table. He struts through every consequence, a man with nothing to lose because he never had anything worth losing in the first place.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Peter Keough

    It’s just like the Kenny Rogers song says: “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” It’s time for this Gambler to walk away.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    The Gambler is a hollow, overwrought and glibly cynical remake of a '70s drama about a self-destructive academic.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Stephanie Merry

    It’s John Goodman who steals every scene. As a scary loan shark who might cough up cash to get Jim out of his pickle, Goodman elevates the material, showcasing the dark humor that Wyatt was clearly going for. But, overall, that comedy just doesn’t land.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Rex Reed

    Richard Brooks made a tougher and much better film about the tragedy of compulsive gambling in his 1985 film "Fever Pitch," and in 1949’s "The Lady Gambles," even Barbara Stanwyck made a more convincing fall from respectability into casino hell than Mark Wahlberg does here.

    New York Observer Full Review
  • Jamie Graham

    Wahlberg finds his most interesting role since The Departed in a film that’s heavy on atmosphere and suspense but shy of a full deck when it comes to characterisation.

    Total Film Full Review
  • Robbie Collin

    It bombards you with overwritten monologues and try-hard music cues in an attempt to drown out its dramatic shortcomings.

    The Telegraph Full Review
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