Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is the gambler. The problem is he’s not a very good one. After spending all night at a secret gambling hall off the PCH he winds up $260,000 in debt to a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) and the gambling ring operator (Alvin Ing), both who definitely want their money back within seven days. So the countdown begins and naturally Bennett goes back to his day job as a college literary professor where he rants to his class including the quiet, pretty, intelligent student (Brie Larson) and the star basketball player (Anthony Kelley). Even after his mom (Jessica Lange) gives him enough money to save his ass, Bennett gambles it away and is back to where he started, only with less time. Will he survive the path to self-destruction?
The Gambler is an unnecessary remake (of a classic no less!) that feels so fake and contrived that there’s not much to positive to remark about it. The characters, motivations and relationships are all forced and come off as checking off plot points than naturally progressing. Bennett is such an unlikeable character who keeps making bad decisions that as his situation around him crumbles all I could hope for was to see him come out of it dead. It doesn’t help that Bennett is played by Wahlberg, who struggles as a “serious actor” and only proves his Academy Award nominations didn’t come from merit of any sort. It was like he thought having a long messy haircut meant that he was really diving deep to portray this character. Hopefully now it’ll be used as evidence that Wahlberg isn’t even a box office draw and will free up future roles for other actors with talent.