Marky Mark is a million miles away, this is true. And Mark Wahlberg did a lot of very good stuff in the last ten years, including gaining two Academy Award nominations, one of those for The Departed, written by William Monahan who’s now the screenwriter of The Gambler.
Based upon the original movie brilliantly written by James Toback, this remake confirms, if still necessary, the incredible desire of Wahlberg of being James Caan. And he’s right, everybody want to be Sonny Corleone, who’s still is a great actor with his terrific regret who made him great for Robert Altman. There’s still a long way to go for Mr. Wahlberg and Professor Jim Bennett is the proof.
Yes, Rupert Wyatt, who did well with the Apes, is definitely not Karel Reisz and even Monahan is not Toback, probably one of the most underestimated filmmakers’ of the last thirty years.
The Gambler is repetitive, predictable and manneristic, Wahlberg’s character is uselessly exaggerated and ridiculously self destructive, but there’s no empathy at all with this rich guy who decided to waste is life to emulate his father and hurts his cruel and selfish mother. The main problem is that Bennett is too intelligent to be so much nihilist without a proper intellectual reason. And Lebowsky still teach that being nihilist is quiet tiring.
The Gambler is not deep enough to be an existential tale and too slow for being a good thriller and even has many significant screenwriting problems, just like London Bridge, the movie directed by Monahan. Two clues can be considered a proof and actually Infernal Affairs was such a much better written than The Departed.
Wahlberg will won an Oscar, definitely not for Transformers or for ready made movies like this one. And unfortunately not even will John Goodman, the best thing of The Gambler. Walter Sobchack has drawn a line in the sand.