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Mark Wahlberg is a man bent on self-destruction in director Rupert Wyatt's take on Karel Reisz's 1974 drama. Wahlberg makes a fine substitute for James Caan - wiry and blue-lipped, he's a maverick literature professor deep in crisis, splurging stacks of cash on high-stakes games, berating his students, fearlessly fraternising with underworld bosses (including a menacing John Goodman) and racing to pay off his debts. The film's self-consciously stylish visuals are sometimes out of kilter with the narrative focus on existential angst. However, the casting is perfection, even if a powerfully husky Jessica Lange and a sensitive Brie Larson are underutilised. This occasionally crass reimagining suffers in comparison to the oblique original, especially when it casts cynicism aside in favour of the possibility of redemption. Yet what it lacks in subtlety it makes up for in macho philosophising, with the script by William Monahan (
) providing plenty to chew on. Swaggering and dialogue-heavy,
certainly talks the talk, but ultimately it lacks the courage of its convictions.
A literature professor mounts up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to a ruthless loan shark and the organiser of an illegal gambling ring after becoming addicted to placing bets. In a last-ditch attempt to pay off his creditors, he risks everything - including his life - on one last game. Thriller, starring Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange and John Goodman.
Cast & Crew
Michael Kenneth Williams
DVD and Blu-ray
23 Jan 2015
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