The trailer for Rupert Wyatt’s forthcoming film The Gambler is fast paced and action packed. It soon becomes clear that lead Jim Bennett, played by Mark Wahlberg, is in a lot of trouble due to, yep you guessed it, gambling. The whir of the roulette table cuts in and out of scenes exposing Bennett’s history and builds tension, drawing the viewer in. A sharp exhale of breath as the ball lands on red, the opposite colour to where the money’s at.
Bennett has clearly borrowed cash from the wrong people, and faces a pretty hard time of paying it back. Hope comes in the form of a loan, but with a strong warning; “if I give you this money and you don’t pay me back, there are no rules,” It’s enough to make anyone want to see how the story ends. Cue a series of sharp cuts to scenes of kicks, punches, flick knives and slaps – even Bennett’s mother (Jessica Lange) has a go. Unlucky for Bennett, it looks like it’ll be a bumpy ride to the end.
Despite the action, the cast looks to be one of the most exciting aspects of the film. Mark Wahlberg’s character Jim Bennett, with his floppy unkempt hair and dark Ray Bans emits an air of cool that borders on disinterestedness. It’s hard to tell without seeing more if this is wooden acting on Wahlberg’s part or, as boss Frank puts it, ‘another lever of fuck-you’ cool that oozes from Bennett. Even the romantic line that prompts the younger love interest, played by up and comer Brie Larson, to leap amorously towards Bennett is delivered with a shrug of the shoulders. Given Wahlberg’s convincing performances in other gritty, violent films of this ilk, it seems more likely to be the latter reason.
This devil may care attitude is exposed especially well in the opening scene of the trailer where it clashes beautifully with Jessica Lange’s fraught, woman-on-the-edge demeanour. Lange’s steady, non-blinking eyes and the terse demand of the bank staff for ‘two hundred and sixty thousand dollars, in cash’ is enough to make even the biggest of big boys whimper before this formidable matriarch. Evoking ever so slightly that calculating performance from Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom, it seems the underlying star of the show will be Bennett’s mother.
The film looks set to be an entertaining watch, with a strong cast, plenty of momentum and the comfortably thrilling theme of gambling gone wrong to pull the viewer in. The suitably shady shots of Wahlberg tied to chairs and being roughed up in alleyways suggests an element of exposé of the gambling world’s dank underbelly and all those who thrive there out of the sunlight. Over all of these scenes of risk-taking, and the sometimes unfortunate consequences, shines the words: ‘When you get a second chance the risk is worth taking’. With remakes having a tendency to fall flat hopefully, for director Rupert Wyatt’s sake, the risk of re-making the 1974 film of the same name pays off.