Casino Jack and the United States of Money

Rated 3.0

My big knock on biopics is that more often than not, a probing and intelligent documentary on the subject would be both more pertinent and more entertaining, but Alex Gibney’s Casino Jack and the United States of Money is the rare case in which a lacerating scripted film would have been more effective. Telling the story of überlobbyist/fantasist/complete scumbag Jack Abramoff, Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) employs every glib trick from the post-Michael Moore playbook—sarcastic film clips, the pointed use of pop songs, visual effects and cartoon interludes. I’m willing to “grandfather” Moore’s use of these by-now hoary clichés because he invented most of them, kind of like how Chaplin was the last guy who got to make silent movies, but Gibney can do better. It’s too bad, because this is a hell of a story.