Upcoming December movies such as Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper and the MLK biopic Selma could land serious award nominations for their leading men’s work, as could such films as the Wild novel adaptation and Tim Burton’s Big Eyes bring awards ceremony attention to the ladies who’s headlining them. Paramount’s The Gambler is another film banking on its main star’s performance (both in the 2014 awards season race and as a selling point).
Mark Wahlberg stars in The Gambler (a loose remake of Karel Reisz’ 1974 film) as Jim Bennett, an English professor and “high-stakes” gambler who makes risky deals with a handful of untrustworthy types – a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) who is funding Bennett, a gambling ring operator (Alvin Ing), and a loan shark (John Goodman) who takes an interest in Bennett’s future – as part of an elaborate scheme to finally get his affairs in order.
Meanwhile, Bennett attempts to deal with his dysfunctional mother (Jessica Lange) and starts to pursue a real relationship with one of his students (Brie Larson), while staying one step ahead of the dangerous people that he’s in deep with.
The Gambler made a splash with a noteworthy red band trailer premiere, and now its green-band theatrical preview has also released online. The new trailer, even more than its predecessor, pitches the film so that is resembles a Martin Scorsese joint (which it almost was), in the best ways possible. The Departed screenwriter William Monahan’s crackling dialogue seems matched here by precise direction, as well as a general appreciation for crime genre tropes, on the part of helmsman Rupert Wyatt.
Wyatt is no stranger when it comes to this sort of masculine genre fare, as evidenced by his earlier work on the well-received prison breakout flick The Escapist. Most people know the director for his sci-fi feature Rise of the Planet of the Apes, though even that movie shared elements in common with the sort of high-art pulp that Wyatt offered with The Escapist (think the “ape sanctuary/prison breakout” sequences) – and now, with The Gambler.
Wyatt’s Gambler remake appears to be worth checking out thus far, regardless of whether it gets any recognition during the upcoming film awards ceremonies or not. The Jim Bennett character, admittedly, doesn’t exactly seem to be so far outside of Wahlberg’s comfort zone; he may not be stretching his abilities, but Wahlberg looks to make for a compelling protagonist here, nonetheless.
The Gambler begins a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on December 19th, 2014; it expands nation-wide in January 2015.