Molly Bloom’s (Jessica Chastain) life was seemingly planned out — she was on track to go to the Winter Olympics in Utah, attend Harvard Law school, and then have any career she wanted. But then when she was doing her run, she hit a frozen twig, sending her tumbling down the hill and crashing into a crowd of spectators including her father (Kevin Costner). The story is then intercut between Molly after that crash and finding a lawyer to defend her after the FBI raided her West Hollywood apartment two years after her last poker game. In the past, Molly moves to LA to get away from the snow, deferring her start at Harvard Law School for a year. She works bottle service at a nightclub one night a week and spends her days as an assistant to Dean Keith (Jeremy Strong) a Hollywood power player who finds himself lacking power. He introduces Molly to his weekly poker game nights hosted at the Viper room which include the powerful and famous, including a Hollywood actor known as Player X (Michael Cera) in reality it’s Tobey Maguire. She finds herself drawn to being in the presence of these powerful men and quickly picks up the game. She’s resourceful too, using her fellow girls at the nightclub to recruit more payers for Player X to take their money. And she’s raking in money too from the tips the players are giving her. But things hit a bump when Dean tells Molly he doesn’t want to pay her as assistant anymore because she’s making so much on Poker nights. Moly thinks it’s unfair and so she decides to strike out on her own and host her own poker night… Meanwhile, in the future, Molly turns to Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) to represent her, which he begrudgingly does only when he seems how sincere Molly is in not wanting anyone to get hurt. Apparently her poker games in New York had members of the Russian mob in attendance, something Molly denies knowing. Will Jaffey find a defense for her or a plea that she deems worth taking?
Molly’s Game is a fun, crime drama that features many of Aaron Sorkin’s trademark dialogue driven scenes. The first half of the movie zips along, but by the second half things feel a little more longwinded than necessary, ultimately suggesting that the two hour and twenty minute movie could be at least twenty minutes shorter. Jessica Chastain is terrific as Molly, a character that is somewhat reminiscent of last year’s Miss Sloane, hopefully more people see this movie than that one. Idris Elba is equally up to the task of talking really fast and has many great moments. But ultimately the lack of really memorable moments is the movie’s biggest fault. There’s the skiing opener and a scene with Bad Brad (Brian d’Arcy James), but other than that there’s not many moments that are going to have people walking out of the theater talking about. Not to say the movie isn’t enjoyable, because it is, it’s just lacking the big moments that stick with you. And really the way the movie is plotted it could very easily have been turned into a play, which may be a better suit for the material. Either way, fans of Sorkin, Chastain and Elba should definitely check it out, and those looking for a smart more adult drama should find time to see Molly’s Game too when it is released on Christmas.