Two for the Money Movie Review
From D.J. Caruso, the director of Taking Lives, comes his new film Two for the Money, about an ex-football quarterback who becomes engulfed within the world of sports betting. Based upon watching Taking Lives, I came into this film with two expectations, that the movie would have quality visuals and that the story would not bring much new to the table.
Unfortunately, I only was right on the story part. The visuals, while not bad, did not seem nearly as creative or original as cinematographer Conrad H. Hall's last film Sleepy Hollow. Although Two for the Money is not poorly made, nor is the acting bad, it just doesn't hold the same appeal as a film like Wall Street, to which it has been compared. For starters, the name of the film itself inspires little interest. The title is bland; it's a name that will not be remembered in a year. The reason I make this point is that if out of a collaborative group of probably 150 people or more, the best title they can come up with is Two for the Money, then what hope is there for the movie itself?
Although the title could use some more edge, there are several redeeming qualities to the movie. Most of them come from the acting. Matthew McConaughey has the inability to be unlikable, although he comes close to changing that in this film. His performance is solid, especially in the parts where he adopts his alter-sports-betting ego, John Anthony. He seems natural in the role, even though it seems that he has his shirt off in every other scene. I am not quite sure if his topless scenes were meant to attract a female audience or make the male audience members feel bad about themselves. I'm going for the latter.
McConaughey is supported well by the always intense Al Pacino. Boy, its good to see him step out of the box and do a role where he is not yelling every word. Oh wait, never mind. However, after watching him in plenty of movies, I really don't care anymore. He can do whatever the hell he wants, as long as he's not my boss. Pacino, is as always, very sincere, managing to bring at least some edge to the movie. Some of his scenes do seem a little long and repetitive at times. Rene Russo, Pacino's wife, also is solid, although for some reason, I've never been blown away by her. Regardless, her ending scene is impressive.
The good thing is that Caruso manages to tell a complete, solid story that makes sense. The bad thing is that I didn't care that much. Perhaps, it has something to do with me not having any interest in sports betting or more likely because I have seen this material before. I know the story before I see it. Nevertheless, Caruso does manage to create several strong sequences, especially the end which cross cuts between McConaughey leaving, Pacino and Russo fighting, and the super bowl game on which the financial status of many a gambler rests.
Two for the Money, although close, does not live up to the potential that the cast and story offered (well, at least the cast). There is no glaring reason to not to see this film, but there are plenty of small reasons not to see it again. Maybe the title is a good place to start.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.