DVD Review : The Gambler


The Gambler sees Mark Wahlberg portraying Uni professor Jim Bennett who, in his spare time, loses vast sums of money gambling. He knows he is an addict, he knows this is all going to end in tears and he just could not care any less.

He continues to borrow money from his very wealthy mother Roberta (Lange) and a rather odd assortment of bad guys who, after a time, all want their money back. In fact, when we join Jim’s continuing tale of woe, he has exactly 7 days to pay up. Or else…

Does this halt him on his trail of self-destruction? We would not have a movie if it did.

A few years back, Jim had also penned a novel that was on a moderate success and he feels this mediocrity keenly. He laments to his girlfriend Amy (Larson), who is also one of his students, that he would rather die than be mediocre. He lectures his students on genius and how anything less is wasting time and this all gives some insight into this character.

Mark Wahlberg stars in "The Gambler"

This is an odd movie. It has a very strange vibe to it that I didn’t much warm too. For me, if felt like a movie with a healthy budget trying to look and feel like an Indie that has scraped by on $50 000 sourced via Crowdfunding. When I discovered it was a remake of a 1974 movie, it all made sense. The Director seems to have been trying to maintain a mid 70’s vibe with an updated script. For me, that didn’t work.

I feel that Jim is a spoiled brat who one day decided that he wanted to be a Writer and was genuinely bewildered when he was not a raging success. So he indulges himself and thus sets himself up for a great fall. He is a pretty pathetic human being who meanders through the train wreck of his life with a sort of sad arrogance.

Wahlberg did complete a truly impressive physical transformation for this role. He lost a heap of weight to try to achieve that indoorsy/nightowl/addict/Professor look and he nailed it. Part of my discomfort with the movie had a lot to do with his appearance. He looked as sad and pathetic as he was. Wahlberg is to be commended for his dedication to his character, that’s for sure.

I don’t even really know if I liked this movie which really sucks for a review so for that I apologise. I think Wahlberg fans will be disappointed as this is a big departure for him but you know what…….. I may not have liked it but its final act is still on my mind. Make of that what you will

DVD Extras

Mr Self Destruct: Inside The Gambler –

The Director, Wyatt and screenwriter, Monahan separately discuss the 1974 original movie and how they wanted to remain true to the story without simply doing a remake. I felt validated for my intense dislike of Wahlberg’s character because that’s just what they were going for with Monahan in particular prefering his characters to be interesting over likable. There is also some insight into the hows and whys of Wahlberg’s remarkable physical transformation for his role which is a surprising departure from his usual buff physique.
Deleted and extended scenes – including an extended lecture scene

2 stars

Love Flick xx

Director : Rupert Wyatt

Starring : Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange, John Goodman, Griffin Cleveland, Anthony Kelley, Steve Park, Brie Larson, Michael Kenneth Williams

Running Time :  111 minutes

DVD Release Date :  27 May 2015

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