The Gambler – Film Review

Mark Wahlberg stars in a thriller that's potentially gripping, but never generates enough tension

In Rupert Wyatt’s remake of 1974’s James Caan-starring The Gambler, a leaner than usual Mark Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett, a literature professor whose gambling addiction results in a $260,000 debt to the owner of an underground gambling ring (76-year-old Hawaiian actor Alvin Ing) and a loan shark (The Wire‘s Michael K Williams). When Bennett is handed an ultimatum – repay his debts in seven days or die – the foundations are laid for a gripping thriller, but The Gambler never generates enough tension. Wahlberg’s character is off-puttingly detached and unfazed by his predicament, and his potentially interesting relationship with one of his students (21 Jump Street‘s Brie Larson) is frustratingly underdeveloped. It all adds up to a lifeless and, ultimately, forgettable film.