The Gambler – Movie Review
The Gambler – R
Release Date: Thu 25 Dec 2014
The Gambler is an interesting crime thriller about a college professor and gambling addict (Mark Wahlberg) who takes a debt of several hundred thousand dollars to a dangerous Korean gangster and manages to flub his way into making it ten times more expensive with two additional gangsters after him. He has a broken (but ultimately honest) relationship with his mother (Jessica Lange) and the only bright spot in his life seems to be a gifted student in his class (Brie Larson.)
Most of what works in The Gambler are individual scenes. When Wahlberg is teaching or in one of a handful of scenes with the excellent John Goodman, the movie shines. The rest just kind of ambles along, with a couple of head-scratchers including a flashback to a pool and some sort of dream of a flooding street. There’s also some running that seems like someone lost a bet as to whether they could make Mark Wahlberg look like the always running Tom Cruise.
While I understand the ending and how they chose to set it up, it’s not very satisfying. That makes it a hard movie to recommend as you’ll be mostly entertained and then inevitably let down by the ending that does not fit the rest of the movie. In a nearly full screening, there was almost a universal sense of “really?” as if the ending cheated us out of the kind of consequences the entire rest of the movie had reinforced.
Hannah and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car: