THE GAMBLERS – Film Review
by Michael Chasin
The Gambler—born into wealth and privilege—thus feels deprived of his chance to prove himself.
So The Gambler puts himself at risk—not wishing to lose—but needing the threat.
The Gambler does not believe in luck but rather—that one can will the desired outcome.
That is The Gambler of 1974, starring James Caan, compellingly and entertainingly giving insight into a compulsive gambler and his intellectualization of his need.
The forty-year-later remake starring Mark Wahlberg tries to be faithful to the original in story and intellectualization—but unfortunately—is a gamble that fails.
Mr. Wahlberg’s gambler, like Mr. Caan’s, is an English professor.
Mr. Caan was personable yet brooding and only at intervals provided his rationale for gambling.
Mr. Wahlberg’s gambler spews his reasons at every opportunity—even if the listener didn’t ask.
As 1970’s did not have the multitude of gambling venues as today—or the internet—Mr. Caan’s venture into the sub-culture of illegal gambling was fascinating.
It thus feels false that Mr. Wahlberg’s present day gambler would need such places—if they even exist.
The peak for Mr. Caan’s gambler was holding eighteen in blackjack—yet still requesting a card—give me the three—and getting it—beautifully enhanced by Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and a set design that created a neon crown over Mr. Caan.
The remake—though faithful to the exposition of that scene—sped through it—failing to let it resonate.
Mr. Wahlberg—safe and successful with his previous choices—is to be applauded for creating his own risk in portraying this character—regardless of the outcome.