Film review: The Gambler (15, 111 mins) Drama/Thriller/Romance

The Gambler: Mark Wahlberg as Jim Bennett
The Gambler: Mark Wahlberg as Jim Bennett
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Taking a gamble with unnecessary dialogue

Silence is golden for everyone except American screenwriter William Monahan.

With an Oscar on the mantelpiece for The Departed, his English language reworking of the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, the Massachusetts-born scribe attempts a similar feat of alchemy with this modern update to the 1974 film of the same name directed by Karel Reisz.

Alas, Monahan’s penchant for excessively wordy set pieces proves an insurmountable distraction.

He arms the cast with polished one-liners and barbed retorts that would draw blood if his woe-begotten characters weren’t so emotionally cold and distant.

After the first hour of endless verbosity, I hoped – in vain as it transpired – that Monahan would rein in the dialogue and let actions speak a hundred words instead.

No such luck.

But then good fortune is in perilously short supply in Rupert Wyatt’s film, which unfolds through the bloodshot eyes of a college professor, whose dare-devil antics at the blackjack table have left him heavily in debt to men who trade in 
violence.

Star rating: 5/10