The Gambler

Rated 2.0

James Toback is often considered an insufferable figure, both onscreen and off, but he deserves credit for a few things—he knows the world of gambling, he knows the world of academia and he knows about recklessly inappropriate behavior. Toback built an entire career rehashing and rearranging and reliving those themes, but his aesthetic was never more purely expressed than in his screenplay for Karel Reisz's 1974 film The Gambler. This tin-eared contemporary remake was scripted by William Monahan (The Departed) and directed by Englishman Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and there's very little evidence that either of them know much about gambling, academia, self-destruction or even the NCAA Basketball rules regarding which team gets possession after a made basket. Wyatt gets nice character work from Jessica Lange and John Goodman, but Mark Wahlberg is badly miscast as the titular nihilist.