Mark Wahlberg is intense and compelling as a gambling-addicted university professor in suspenseful crime drama The Gambler, a slick update of a grittier 1974 James Caan movie. But his character’s self-destructive behaviour strains the viewer’s sympathy almost as much as it strains that of the people around him, including his wealthy mother (a bitter Jessica Lange), the Jewish mobster he approaches for a loan (a strikingly bald John Goodman), and his most talented creative writing student (a winsome Brie Larson). ‘It’s either victory, or don’t bother’ is his attitude to life, which makes for some gripping scenes as he gets into perilous scrapes with vengeful loan sharks and Korean gangsters, but rings somewhat hollow as philosophy.
Certificate 15. Runtime 111 mins. Director Rupert Wyatt. The Gambler is released on DVD & Blu-ray by Paramount Home Media Distribution.
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