THE GAMBLER – Rated R

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Director Rupert Wyatt joins forces with screenplay writer William Monahan to remake and rework the 1974 film starring James Caan, and bring it into modern day realism with their take on THE GAMBLER.

Professor Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a literary genius by day, and a gambling addict by night. Having been addicted for years – Bennett is an ALL IN kinda guy, knowing that his next big take is just a black jack hand away.

As his loosing streaks keep coming, and his debt to the Casino boss keeps mounting, Bennett finds himself on the take for over 200K. Just like any other gambler, he knows that if he can just secure a little more cash, he can make it onto easy street, so he reaches out to another high-rolling gangster named Neville Baraka (Michael Kenneth Williams), who gives him the money, only to watch him loose this big chunk of change too.

What else can Bennett do, but to go after more cash to save him from ultimate peril from one of his loan sharks – as it seems his life is the collateral no matter which way he turns – so he goes after the family fortune , and asks his mother Roberta (Jessica Lange) to help him out one last time. As his mother is none-to-happy to bail his sorry little you know what out yet again, Bennett finds himself going to the ruthless – yet endearing King of all Loan Sharks Frank (played by John Goodman), who also refuses to put up the amount of cash he is requesting to get himself out of this incredibly BIG MESS!!

Well, what does any good professor do to keep his mind off of his money troubles, but to start a relationship with a beautiful young co-ed named Amy (played by Brie Larson)…yeah, that seems like that will make everything in Bennett’s life so much better…

As Bennett seems to just keep digging a bigger hole for himself, he knows that if he can just secure the money to place one last bet…he can make all of his problems go away, from all directions – so he can finally live the life he was destined to live…

I give THE GAMBLER a B: Mark Wahlberg plays a very convincing role as the Gambler who just can’t seem to know when to get out, and I absolutely love John Goodman’s role as Frank, as the philosophy he shares with Bennett on life is some of the best material I have heard in a long time. This film keeps you guessing all along the way, and just when you think you know where Bennett is headed, you actually have no idea. Jessica Lange is also fantastic as the mother who pretends to really not give a shit about her only son, and Brie Larson is also enjoyable to watch as the College student falling for her professor. Even though I wouldn’t say this is one of my absolute favorite films being released on Christmas Day, I did find it very entertaining to watch none-the-less. So if you like remakes, like gambling, or just like to see Mark Wahlberg or John Goodman in good roles, that’s okay too – so go check out THE GAMBLER at a theater near you!

Kathy Kaiser