Wahlberg is college professor James Bennett who makes 150,000 a year, spacious home and a BMW to cruise in, but he has one problem. His greatest passion becomes his greatest curse. Gambling.
On the outside, Bennett is a tortured man that is not pleased with his life from his fractured relationship with Roberta, his mother (Jessica Lange) to his self-centered students that are only there for the English credits. He takes all that and makes gambling a way of life.
Wahlberg continues to prove why he is one of the best actors out there. His understated performance is what carries the movie. You can see the angst and frustration when he is away from the blackjack tables, his happiness shines when he is. Also, the supporting cast does its job. Lange, Michael Kenneth Williams, and an extended cameo by John Goodman keeps your eyes glued to the screen as they spout Monahan's writing like clockwork.
However, similar to the lead and his story were the downfall with Wyatt's bipolar direction. At times, he is smooth with the gambling scenes, slows it down too much for us to invest in the characters and uses speed editing to a pointless fashion. We get a hit and miss performance by the talented Brie Larson who is given no emotional investment with Wahlberg. Just an one-note character and its descriptive flaws that bring the movie down. Unfortunately.
The Gambler has great inspiration and the right man to remake a classic with Mark Wahlberg but even though the cast shines and the balance of witty writing laced with social commentary cannot lift above the incoherent direction and snail-like pacing.
Take a gamble if you want or wait on the slots at Redbox.
Safer bet, anyway