Shortly after his grandfather died, literary professor and gambler Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) goes on a run at an underground casino. He owes the owner a large amount already, but he can’t help but to gamble. After losing all of the money he came in with, he borrows 50k at an absurd 20 points from Neville Baraka (Michael K. Williams). Neville is another gambler and bookie that is not to be crossed. While at the casino, he notices that one of his favorite students named Amy (Brie Larson) is a waitress. They exchange glances, but Bennett is more focused on the money he has to spend.
The total amount spent is around $260k and he searches for a way to get the money, ending up having to go to his rich mother to borrow it. Will this be able to cover everything or will Jim spend the money before reaching the men he owes?
THE GAMBLER is a drama movie with a little dark comedy mixed in, but not enough to effect the genre. It’s a remake of the 1974 film starring James Caan. The movie is directed by Rupert Wyatt and a little different from his previous sci-fi film, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Walhberg plays one of his typical roles in this where he talks really fast with a snarky attitude. The twist with his role here is that he tries to sounds smart when teaching his lit class, but it isn’t believable at all. When he lectures, he comes off as jaded and seemingly drunk (even though the only time we see him drink is in the casino).
The other problem with Wahlberg’s character is that there is never a time that you really care about him or the troubles he has. He is running around, avoiding all kinds of different people and he is down about the entire thing. You can see that he is worried, but I found myself rooting for the “gangsters” because Bennett is not trying to make things right.
Larson does a wonderful job as one of Bennett’s favorite students. Her character has a thing for her professor, but she has seen how reckless he can be. You can see that her character gravitates towards Bennett but is very guarded at the same time. This is a different role for her as she usually plays more of a quirky girl. In this, she’s definitely a more serious character as a determined student, but she loves thrills outside of school.
Mark Wahlberg as Jim Bennett
John Goodman as Frank
Brie Larson as Amy Phillips
Michael K. Williams as Neville Baraka
Jessica Lange as Roberta
The video transfer for THE GAMBLER is a 1080p AVC that has issues. The movie is a bit on the darker side with a lot of lower lit scenes in casinos and inside a college classroom. The contrasting is also hit or miss. The darker colors mix with the even darker backgrounds, creating a blurring of details. In the lighter scenes and in lit details, the images are sharp. The skin tones are pale and on the cooler side, but the lack of warmth makes sense in this movie.
The lossless track is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and it sounds great. The ambient sounds fill the speakers in both the front and the rear during the classroom scenes, but really stands out in the casino scenes. From the opening song, the music utilizes both the bass and treble fully. The dialogue is clear and is never overpowered by any sound effects. This is an excellent example of a strong, HD mix.
The extras on the release are ample and explore pretty much everything about the movie from inception to screen.
– Mr. Self Destruct – Inside THE GAMBLER: This featurette explores the many facets of the movie including the script, filming, Wahlberg’s transformation for the role, Brie Larson’s performance and insight in to her character.
– Dark Before Dawn – The Descent of THE GAMBLER: This featurette is essentially the add-on to the previous one. It explores the filming process and keeping things accurate.
– Changing the Game – Adaptation: This featurette also explores the process of re-imagining the original film and story into this film.
– In the City – Locations: This featurette goes over the various shooting locations in the movie.
– Dressing the Players – Costume Design: This featurette focuses on the costumes and wardrobe in the movie.
– Deleted/Extended Scenes
2 Disc Set – 1 Blu-ray/1 DVD
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
THE GAMBLER is one of those movies that is Mark Wahlberg stepping outside of his wheelhouse and he missed his mark. I realize it’s a remake, but he just can’t pull off what James Caan did in 1974. The Blu-ray has an okay transfer, but really shines in the audio mix. The extras on the disc explore most of the info about the movie. If you’re a Wahlberg fan, check out the movie, but you might want to rent it before you buy.