At First Glance: “The Gambler (2014)”

The only time a remake is a good idea, is when it involves a film that’s little known. Granted, that idea alone depends on who you ask about the original film. Then, whether or not the remake was worth it depends on how good or how terribly bad it ends up being.

The Paramount Pictures film “The Gambler”, looks fun, but going beyond that, it’s a bit trickier to figure out.

This crime drama stars Mark Wahlberg (“Transformers: Age of Extinction”, “Lone Survivor”), Brie Larson (“Community”, “Short Term 12”), Michael K. Williams (upcoming “Inherent Vice”, “Kill the Messenger”), John Goodman (“Transformers: Age of Extinction”, “The Monuments Men”), and Jessica Lange (“American Horror Story”, “In Secret”).

The film is directed by Rupert Wyatt (“Turn”, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) and written by William Monahan (“London Boulevard”, “Edge of Darkness”). It is based on the 1974 film of the same name.

The film had a special release at the AFI Fest on Nov. 10, 2014 and will later open in a limited release on Dec. 19. A wide release will occur early in January of 2015.

I can’t tell if this film will be any good, but it certainly looks like it will be a lot of fun. Granted, when you look at the popularity of “Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)” and “The Italian Job (2003)” from that time, the same could easily be said of those films, and look at them now.

This film looks glitzy and fast paced! Plus there’s drama and potential humor involved, as well as a romantic interest in Larson’s character. Those are definitely good qualities to have in a film, especially one about gambling. Gotta make that look interesting! It doesn’t have that full exciting and raunchy/debauchery feel of “The Wolf of Wall Street”, but it’s definitely heading in that directions. Too bad there’s a big wall that will block it reaching that stop, so it could be good or bad, depending on who you are.

Lange looks fierce, which is sort of expected of her roles, but I don’t think it’s just that. She’s a mother. Her kid is in trouble. The emotions and reactions sound and look like those of someone with a kid in trouble. I’m excited to see her mainly because she’s finally back in films on the big screen. The last movie I saw her in was what I’m sure is an independent film called “Bonneville” “Grey Gardens”, and that was fantastic!

Wahlberg, on the other hand, could go either way. What works once doesn’t mean it will work again, and the same can be said for the entire film overall. His character’s a mess. He’s addicted to gambling and is taking money from his mother. There’s probably other things too, but this already makes him unlikable. If this is the case, then why would I want to see this? Why would I even want to just watch the middle stuff, since I have a feeling he’ll come out on top of this? Maybe because watching fictional people with even worse lives than my own is incredibly enjoyable, more so than I previously imagined. At the very least, I won’t be rushing to see this predictable movie in theaters. I can spend 10 dollars elsewhere. Hey! maybe I’ll buy a couple coffees!! That sounds like fun!

The director has me a bit worried. He did direct the second remake of “Planet of the Apes (1968)”, (you know, the movie where Moses played with intelligent animals), which I hated, but when I think on it, I don’t fully blame him. Maybe I don’t blame him at all. It was the screenplay and the special effects that bothered me. The writer for this film gives me a little help, as the five other films he’s written have fare about half and half on the good and bad scale. Mind you, one of those films (“The Departed”) earned him and Academy Award. There’s a little bit of hope.

The remake sometimes surprises you. Pulling films by well respected actors out for a whole new group of people to watch. When they’re dramatic remakes, it’s strange. Those, in the last few years, tend to be of the good variety, which I never knew could happen. Anyone see “True Grit (2010)”? Even if this film looks hard to place on the spectrum of good or bad, it at least has fun going for it! I’m also certain, as it’s Wahlberg, people will go and see it. He somehow still has a strong enough fan base and credibility with his films.


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