Box Office Report: “The Gambler”

By Jack Heyden

When “The Gambler” was at its best, it was a decent film, but when it struggled it wasn’t much more than a sports film with an affinity for Blackjack.

Structurally, the movie was sound, and I had the pleasure of explaining how everything pieced together very well to a fellow moviegoer who didn’t quite follow the film. But solid structure and character development cannot save a film.

At the beginning of the movie we are introduced to Jim Bennett, played by Mark Wahlberg, who we come to learn has fixated himself on a “go big or go home” mindset. It gets to the point where Bennett doesn’t care if he lives or dies by the hands of those whom he owes money to because the thrill of gambling is worth more than the thought of a normal life.

As a viewer, it becomes hard to feel sorry for the suicidal gambler and what makes the plot even more difficult is the fact that the gangsters who want Bennett to pay up can’t decide whether or not they want to be his enemy or his friend.

Eventually, I almost lost all my interest in the film because there was very little at stake for our so-called hero.

As far as the acting goes, we see a typical Mark Wahlberg giving us a so-so performance that left me slightly unconvinced. John Goodman played probably the most believable character in the entire picture but unfortunately he barely made it onto the screen. But when the movie was at its best, it was not entirely a waste of my time.

Admittedly, there were points where I was hoping things would wrap up and allow me to get out of the theater, but by the end of the film I was definitely surprised at how well things concluded; there was undoubtedly a solid development for our main character that quite possibly saved the film.

There were a few loose ends that I would have liked to see resolved but the movie did a nice job of making me feel good about the state of the story. All in all, I would probably never see this movie again, and I do not plan on recommending it to anyone to go see. The only part about this film that was satisfying was the way the plot moved in an intelligent and cautious pattern, which is something that the average viewer won’t care for in the slightest.

After I explained every loose bit of the plot to my buddy as we walked to my car, I realized that he had far too many questions to let the movie escape as a pass on my scale. Perhaps if the film’s focus on Blackjack loosened up a bit or if the “bad guys” in the movie were a little more convincing I would have liked it a bit more.

But unfortunately, “The Gambler” as a whole was uninteresting and bleak. It gets a FAIL in my book.

My Rating: 6/10

Jack is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]