Review of “The Gambler”

It’s two hours of Mark Wahlberg being an irresponsible person. No real character arc (*spoiler* other than how he kind of gets over his addiction), not a whole lot of action, not a whole lot of anything. It’s just a compilation of a lot of enjoyable, well-written scenes strung together in a decent plot. If that sounds like a good time to you like it was for me, then go out and see it.


Mark Wahlberg is wonderful in the film, and if you’re going for him, prepare to be satisfied. John Goodman is solid for the collective ten minutes he has on-screen, make of that what you will. Brie Larson is cool as well, if you even know who she is. Michael K. Williams puts on a great show, even though I’ve only really seen him in three other things (Battlefield 4, the Purge sequel, Robocop and now this). Overall, good performances.

The scenes are snappy and well-written, giving Wahlberg a lot of fun dialogue to play with. Some of it might be melodramatic, some of it might be douche-y, and some of it might not make a whole lot of sense. But all of it is fun to hear. I mean, if you want dramatic build up with slow scenes setting up a colossal finale, look elsewhere. Events in this movie just sort of “happen”. It’s a tidy story that fits together perfectly well, but there’s no real “this time is different from the last” sort of feeling in any given scene, it’s just “Mark Wahlberg fucks up again but gets out of it with his cynicism intact”. And to be honest, it’s done well enough that to me personally it justifies the movie’s style.

The ending of the movie is pretty interesting, so just know that it ends on a solid note if that tends to be a deal breaker for you. And there’s this nice little allusion to how dealing with banks can be just as much of a gamble as actual gambling.

The soundtrack is good too, since no one else seems to be mentioning it in their reviews. I discovered this great band thanks to the movie, M83 (French electro-musicians… sort of like if the majority of Daft Punk’s work was their Tron: Legacy soundtrack).

Overall, it’s a great movie if you have some downtime and want a fun flick. Nothing too major justifying that you run out and see it immediately, but I had a very good time with it if that means anything to you.

Fun fact: this is the second time Mark Wahlberg has played an irresponsible character with the last name “Bennett”. First in Ted as John Bennett and now in this as Jim Bennett.


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