By BROOKE RUDISILL
All bets are in for Jim Bennett’s (Mark Wahlberg) life to soon start crumbling down with the life threatening debt of $200,000 that he owes three high-stake gangsters in a span of seven days.
Director Rupert Wyatt brings Screenwriter William Monahan’s metaphorical script, “The Gambler” to life this Christmas day.
Bennett is born into the lifestyle of luxury and wealth, surrounded by individuals who thrive on the power of money. His mother Roberta (Jessica Lange) soaks in the idea of all of the enjoyment that wealth has to offer, while Bennett is on a mission to get down to absolutely nothing in hopes to start all over again.
“[Roberta] is somebody who wants everything in life in the material sense, yet spiritually she’s completely bankrupt,” says Wyatt.
During the day, Bennett is a professor at a university. He is brutally honest about his opinions towards his students dreams and aspirations, as he holds nothing back. The idea behind this characteristic of Bennett was that “he’s a kind of outsider in that sense,” says Wyatt. “He’s a guy who is not your everyday teacher, and that’s why the students love him and seek him out because he’s different. He’s far more interesting.”
By night, Bennett throws himself in extremely risky situations, dealing with the dark world down under with dangerous men. The audience witnesses Bennett borrowing $200,000 in a span of one week in hopes to just lose it all. He gets this money from characters, Frank (John Goodman), Mr. Lee (Alvin Ing) and Neville (Michael K. Williams), all incredibly dangerous men who are obsessed with materialistic measures that wealth offers.
Amy (Brie Larson) is one of Bennett’s students who is able to open his eyes in realization that his life is more than a risk of self destruction. Larson is a class act who is an “underwritten role in this film in some ways,” says Wyatt. With a minimum amount of screen time, it is quite difficult to gain a clear understanding of Amy’s character and what it is about her that Bennett is drawn to.
The countdown keeps the audience on their toes in suspicion of what exactly is being counted down until the very last scene. Bennett throws himself in numerous suicidal situations where it is hard for the audience to feel bad for him.
The film is about the risks and gambles that people take in their lives in order to gain happiness, “especially in this society where there’s this whole notion of you either win or you lose, says Wyatt. “There’s really no space in between.”
Without the list of brilliant actors, the audience would definitely find it more difficult to connect with this film. Wahlberg, Goodman, and Lange bring a tremendous amount of life to these characters.