Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky novella and James Toback’s the Gambler, director Rupert Wyatt’s offering is a well-paced and a wonderfully shot piece of drama entertainment in its own right. It’s tension builds as the days countdown for the debut to get paid back which is complemented by the music and downtown Los Angeles on location setting.
In her limited screen time Jessica Lange gives a meaty performance as Mark Wahlberg’s character’s mother, Roberta. Both John Goodman and Michael K. Williams are exceptional as the loan sharks. Brie Larson is great as Amy but her student character and Jim Bennett never really feel connected enough to emphasise the danger they are in.
The dialogue is profanity laced, in-keeping with the environment and the world in which Mark Wahlberg’s Jim Bennett resides. Wahlberg is perfectly cast, reliably superb as the sharp unlikeable venomous literature professor. With snappy dialogue and timed mannerisms he achieves a believable performance. That said, under the cool pretence and intense pressure on the backdrop of impending doom at times he feels a little too fearless. William Monahan’s dialogue rolls of Wahlberg’s Jim tongue as he searches for redemption. Still as he plays it out more than adequately you can’t help but feel for his characters sensibility.
It’s not an easy watch given the unsavoury main character but just like the character’s plight it isn’t meant to be. Recommend for that reason.