The Gambler is a drama that stars Mark Wahlberg as Jim Bennett, a literature professor who, due to his views of having it all or having nothing, has a severe gambling addiction.
As a result of his addiction, Bennett ends up owing money to Lee (Alvin Ing), the head of an underground gambling ring, a couple of loan sharks in Baraka (Michael K. Williams) and Frank (John Goodman) and even his own mother Roberta (Jessica Lange). We’re talking big money here as well.
Bennett soon has them all on his tail and when he starts a relationship with Amy (Brie Larson), one of his students, it isn’t long until they start to use her as leverage. Bennett is given deadlines that he has to meet, or else.
Mark Wahlberg has the ability to make some pretty mediocre films watchable. There are some occasions where he can’t save a film at all (The Happening) but The Gambler is definitely not one of those.
This is by no means Wahlberg’s toughest role but he brings a certain charm and stylishness to Bennett that many actors would ultimately fail at. Wahlberg is joined by a fine supporting cast that includes Michael K. Williams, Brie Larson, John Goodman and Jessica Lange, and they all play a part in making The Gambler an entertaining watch.
The Gambler has a screenplay written by William Monahan and considering he was the man that wrote the screenplay for The Departed, in which Wahlberg shines, I was intrigued. However, aside from a few moments, the screenplay is pretty run-of-the-mill stuff.
The biggest surprise for me was that Rupert Wyatt directed The Gambler. He directed the impressive Rise of the Planet of the Apes so when I saw his name at the start I thought that it was going to be better than I’d first expected. Unfortunately, at times, it feels as if Wyatt is trying too hard in making a homage to Martin Scorsese than focusing on making his own film.
With a great cast, Rupert Wyatt directing and William Monahan writing the screenplay, I was expecting The Gambler to be better but it just felt all too underwhelming. However, it’s certainly watchable and nowhere near being a bad film even if it does have one of the corniest endings I have seen in a while.