Review: The Gambler
Mark Wahlberg explores the underground world of gambling.
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Mark Wahlberg is an actor who seems to choose his films with a certain pattern. For every outstanding film he is in, it’s usually followed by a film that’s not-so-good. For example, Ted in 2012 was fantastic – Broken City in 2013 wasn’t so good. Equally, Lone Survivor in 2013 wasn’t so good, but Transformers: Age of Extinction was amazing. Unfortunately, The Gambler is Wahlberg’s next film after Transformers.
In ‘The Gambler’, Mark Wahlberg plays the character of Jim Bennett, an English teacher turned high-stakes gambler who’s in a predicament when he borrows money from a gambler (Michael Kenneth Williams) and offers his own life as collateral. Bennett plays both sides of the coin, immersing himself in the underground world of gambling whilst gaining the attention of Frank (the outstanding John Goodman), a loan shark with interest in Bennett’s future. As his relationship with basketball-player and student (Brie Larson) deepens, Bennett must make some serious risks.
The Gambler is a bit like a burger. The bun and the salad (beginning and end) are a bit soggy at times, but the meat (the middle) is nice and juicy.
The beginning of the film focuses most of its energy on Bennett’s character development, but no matter how hard it tries, the fault is with the worker not his tools. Wahlberg plays a potentially complex character as a one-dimensional addict who doesn’t care what anybody thinks of him. He walks with a swagger that makes you want to hit him and, Wahlberg – from me to you – sunglasses indoors is a no no.
One thing you can’t fault Wahlberg on, however, is how well he plays that one-dimensional, arrogant addict. It’s conviction, that’s for sure.
In more ways that one, ‘The Gambler’ is a typical 21st century Hollywood film – half the cinema is asleep for the first 30 minutes, there are typical struggles and at the end the main character runs across a bridge to “Rocky” type music and claims his girl. It’s an overused, albeit tired, formula.
Director Rupert Wyatt has some great films behind him, having directed 2008’s The Escapist and 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes but The Gambler wouldn’t be appearing on the same lists as those.