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The Gambler
The Gambler movie poster

The Gambler Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

The Gambler would have been a better movie had the screenwriters sat down, looked at all the scenes they jerked off to while writing and simply removed them from their screenplay. The Mark Wahlberg starrer has plenty to like, but the story gets bogged down by overly written scenes that seem to exist just to get the filmmakers off.

Wahlberg plays a professor and gambling addict who owes the wrong people a lot of money. He is so addicted that even when his rich mother attempts to bail him out, he can't help but waste away the cash at a casino. The filmmakers play hard and loose with the audiences' time as well, cashing in on well written but questionably necessary sequences. Wahlberg spends a whole class ranting about something, and another talking with his attractive student/girlfriend about something else, and so on. Individually, these sequences are fun--Wahlberg is at the top of his game and loving every minute of it--but...

What. The. Hell. Do. They. Have. To. Do. With. Anything?

In fairness, the scenes have a deeper meaning and they all tie back to some underlying theme I didn't really care about, but it's just so unnecessary. The Gamblerwants to be a thinking man's gambling movie, but sometimes--often--simpler is better.

It's a shame that the filmmakers get so caught up with the extra stuff, because at its core The Gambler is a good movie. Wahlberg is great and John Goodman is great and Michael Kenneth Williams is great. Brie Larson is good, too, though why her character is even in this movie is beyond me (for all the over-writing, the filmmakers fail to establish exactly what relationship Larson’s character has with Wahlberg). The dialogue is fast and fun to listen to, and the movie, under director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), looks terrific.

The movie is entertaining and generally fast paced, save for a few blips. It just doesn't amount to a whole lot when all is said and done. The climax doesn't deliver the chips, unless you count Mark Wahlberg running for 30 miles without breaking a sweat a climax. The Gambler is good, but far from special. A little less jerking off at the writing stage could have gone a long way.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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