The Gambler [2014] ★★


James Caan played the title role in the 1974 movie. While less than perfect, the film was highly entertaining. Now Mark Wahlberg steps into his shoes to bring back the role of a compulsive gambler back to life in this new version directed by Rupert Wyatt. I’m sad to report that result is far from satisfying. On the brightside, Walhberg is always watchable as a literature professor who takes tremendous risks in dealing with dangerous people. He can’t stop gambling and doesn’t respond to death threats, because he simply doesn’t care if he lives or dies. With a fine supporting cast that includes Jessica Lange, John Goodman and Michael Kenneth Williams, you’d expect a more coherent story. But it seems that director Rupert Wyatt has chosen style over substance. The screenplay (by William Monahan, who wrote “The Departed” a film that won Wahlberg an Oscar nomination) would have you believe that its main character is existential when it seems to me he’s not very smart. Too bad. I would hate to dismiss this version of “The Gambler” out of hand, but I simply couldn’t enjoy it.

Rating: 2/4

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