December 29, 2014
Until very recently I was unaware that this was a remake of a 1974 James Caan film, or if its ties to a Dostoyevsky novella. Be that as it may, this movie is far from perfect and seems to want to give star (and producer) Mark Wahlberg something meaty to work with, but seems to just feel like someone found a thesaurus. Still, while not fan of the movie, it is slickly directed by Rupert Wyatt, who impressed a couple years back with Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
I am still trying to put my finger on it, but this movie just doesn't really sit well with me. Our central character is not so much a hero figure as much as simply the protagonist. He is not particularly likable, and we do not really get much of a story on him. Like other movies I have seen lately, it is a bit of a character study that forgot the study part.
Wahlberg tries to make Jim Bennett interesting, but it just fails to take hold. I found I just did not care. Bennett is a bored rich kid with self destructive tendencies and a borderline sociopathic personality. That certainly does seem like an interesting character to make a study of, but it never happens. We just watch him wander around getting himself deeper into his mess. It doesn't help that the potential means for his redemption disappears for a large chunk of the movie (a similar thing happened with The Equalizer). I am reminded a little of Into the Wild, which was about another character I did not care for.
No, not a bad movie, but like so many wide releases of late, terribly mediocre. It has moments of interest, but it never pays off on them. It skates by doing as little as possible. You can have Wahlberg's Bennett give speeches about genius and the futility with which everyone else operates, but you cannot make me care about him without giving some sort of reason to. No, he doesn't have to be a nice guy, but give us something to grab on to. It needs more than a single childhood flashback to him swimming. It has no bearing on anything and feels like something they forgot to snip out when they took out the study part of this character study.
So, what it comes down to is we have a movie about a gambler/literature professor who says he isn't a gambler, gets into debt with the wrong people and doesn't seem to have any interest in getting out. It feels incomplete as a story and purposely misguided by self aware dialogue. Interesting in fits and spurts, but lacking as a whole.
Posted by Christopher Beaumont at 12/29/2014 09:24:00 PM
Labels: 2010s, 2014, Brie Larsen, Drama, George Kennedy, Jessica Lange, John Goodman, Mark Wahlberg, Movie Review, Rupert Wyatt, Theatrical Release, Thriller
Chris has been an avid movie watcher for decades, getting into the writing game in 2004. Since that time he has contributed to a number online publications as well as running CriticalOutcast.com. In addition to movies, Chris is a big fan of music, particularly metal, and will never give up hope on his beloved Mets.