|Die Frankfurt-Tipp Bewertung:|
|Laufzeit:||Ca. 112 min.|
|FSK:||From 12 years|
The literature professor Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) could actually lead a rather carefree life if it weren't for his penchant for illegal gambling. No matter how much money he wins, he just can't get enough. Again and again he overtaxes his luck, so that he now stands not only with his mother (Jessica Lange), but also with Mister Lee (Alvin Ing), the operator of an illegal gambling ring, and with the gangster Neville (Michael Kenneth Williams) deep in the chalk. To pay off his debts, he borrows money from the loan shark Frank (John Goodman) - not a good idea for a notorious player like Jim. Soon he has only one option left to pull his neck out of the noose - but for that he must betray his ideals and risk his own life. And this stake can be too high even for him…
"The Gambler" is the remake of the crime-drama "Player without scruples" from 1974. Director Rupert Wyatt ("Planet of the Apes: Prevolution") has detached himself far enough from the plot of the original to emerge from its shadow and be seen as an independent work. Wyatt's drama, spiced with a lot of cynical humor and light thriller elements, is absolutely perfect. The actors also deliver consistently convincing performances, even if you don't really want to take Mark Wahlberg's professor down. However, the movie has some very strong moments to offer, especially on an acting level, which show what entertainment value the story could actually offer.
However, there are also some problematic aspects to the well done aspects. So the fact that there isn't any real sympathizer in the whole story - apart from Jim's student and affair Amy (Brie Larson) maybe - could have a negative effect on many viewers. For why should one be interested in the fate of a man who so carelessly throws his life away and drags everyone around him into his own personal downward spiral? Since Jim does this quite consciously, he simply turns out to be a figure of identification for the audience. He is no anti-hero either, but simply a self-destructive egoist who hides his real problems behind an indifferent and superimposed cool facade. Spending money to watch such a person for almost two hours is really hard to recommend - no matter how well the whole thing is played.
The other problem is that the script sometimes gets lost in too long dialogues, or excessive monologues, which on closer inspection do not advance the plot in any way and ultimately are not as profound as they pretend to be. In principle, Jim's heatedly presented monologues stand for the whole film: in a certain way they are stirring, but in the end surprisingly trivial. The first-class camera work, the good actors, the breath of biting humor - all this creates a beautiful appearance, which is not powerful enough to hide the boredom lurking behind it and the meaninglessness of the story throughout the whole running time of the film. And so only hard-boiled Mark Wahlberg fans or those viewers who find television broadcasts of poker games incredibly exciting will enjoy this drama. Therefore: only conditionally worth seeing!
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