The Gambler is one of those movies I wish was never made, but at least I can sleep soundly knowing that next to no one will see it anyway.
There is no reason The Gambler should be as bad a film as it is – the writers and director involved have all experienced success with well made films and the actors are top notched and the glimmer of a thriller is present.
And yet, The Gambler stumbles immediately and then falls miraculously for 111 minutes. With a screenplay by William Monahan, screenwriter of The Departed, and director Rupert Wyatt, no novice or stranger to studio films, manage to produce an incredibly underwhelming and sleep inducing film that exploits the con-man crime genre with the grace of a rhinoceros.
Mark Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett, a silver spooned punk turned Lit professor, who carelessly gambles himself nearly a quarter million in debt. Loan sharks a plenty come a calling to collect, and Bennett haphazardly continues to try his luck putting those around him in jeopardy.
When a film is loosely about gambling addiction masked as a suspenseful thriller, the audience wants the afflicted to have a heart of gold, not be an unconcerned ass, the latter being the character-type for Jim Bennett. He is not charming or entertaining and his role nor the events that unfold are near captivating enough to hold an entire film. There is no greater meaning or implication for the character except that of a cocky addict. There is nothing redeemable about the character or about the film as a whole.
The Gambler should have been successful enough as a thriller – central character in debt up to his eyeballs has to pay off an impossibly large debt by an implausible deadline. The premise is there and yet the film drags on because Monahan unnecessarily forces the viewer on a wild goose chase to pointless end. Perhaps he thought if the film seemed complicated that people would not realize it was a hopeless mess.
As a film, The Gambler is about as aimless as its central character, and it shows no greater purpose other than bulking up and filling in the gaps of the filmographies of those involved.
The Gambler – Review