starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jessica Lange
screenplay by William Monahan, based on the screenplay by James Toback
directed by Rupert Wyatt
by Angelo Muredda "The only way out is all in," teases the dishonest poster for The Gambler, a safe adaptation of Karel Reisz and James Toback's 1974 original that would surely bore its own hero. It's hard to say who's most at fault for turning Toback's semi-autobiographical moral tale of a failed author turned debt-ridden professor into such easygoing pap--the antithesis of all-in. The contenders run from Toback's own smug paean to male irascibility in the original to Rupert Wyatt's slick commercial style, as forgettable as it is watchable. But it's tempting to put all your money on William Monahan. Oscar-certified out of the gate for The Departed's heavy philosophical nothings and largely unheralded since (except by Ridley Scott apologists), Monahan has apparently had some time to think about what it means for a serious man with serious thoughts to not quite live up to his potential. The Gambler becomes the unwitting dumping ground for all he's learned, a redemptive character study of a shitty guy who accepts congratulations for every last baby step he takes into adulthood.