Taglines: Check Mate!
Jim Bennett is a risk taker. Both an English professor and a high-stakes gambler, Bennett bets it all when he borrows from a gangster and offers his own life as collateral. Always one step ahead, Bennett pits his creditor against the operator of a gambling ring and leaves his dysfunctional relationship with his wealthy mother in his wake. He plays both sides, immersing himself in an illicit, underground world while garnering the attention of Frank, a loan shark with a paternal interest in Bennett’s future. As his relationship with a student deepens, Bennett must take the ultimate risk for a second chance…
The Gambler is an American crime drama film directed by Rupert Wyatt. The screenplay by William Monahan is based on the 1974 film, written by James Toback. The remake, starring Mark Wahlberg as the titular character, premiered on November 10, 2014 at the AFI Fest, and was theatrically released in the United States on December 25, 2014.
About the Story
Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a literature professor with a severe gambling addiction caused by his view of the world as either having it all or having nothing. He ends up owing $240,000 to Lee (Alvin Ing), the proprietor of an underground gambling ring, and another $50,000 to Neville Baraka (Michael K. Williams), a loan shark. Lee gives Bennett seven days to pay off his debts or be murdered. During one of his classes, he identifies student Amy Phillips (Brie Larson) as a potential writing prodigy, points out Dexter (Emory Cohen) as a genius tennis star, and confronts Lamar Allen (Anthony Kelley), a student who does not pay attention in class and intends to become an NBA basketball player.
Bennett considers borrowing money from Frank (John Goodman), another loan shark, to consolidate his debts and buy himself some time, but refuses to do so after Frank demands he admit that he is not a man. Bennett convinces his mother Roberta (Jessica Lange) to give him enough money to pay off his debts, but during a night out with Amy he gambles it all away. Baraka kidnaps and confronts Bennett, forcing him into an ultimatum—if he does not convince Lamar to win one of his college basketball games by a margin of 7 points or less, he will murder Amy.
Bennett goes to Frank, who advises him to adopt a “fuck you” attitude towards life by getting enough money to be completely free, and lends him $260,000 to pay his debt to Lee. Bennett convinces Lee to stake him $150,000, as the only way he can pay his full $410,000 debt to Lee and also pay back the money he borrowed from Frank is to gamble and win. He uses the money from Lee to bribe Lamar into keeping the point spread to under 8 in the basketball game.
Bennett sends Dexter to Vegas to bet on the game with the $260,000 he got from Frank. Lamar succeeds in the scheme, and Bennett uses his winnings to pay his debt to Baraka, denying he knows anything about the large bet made in Vegas. He then convinces Lee and Frank to meet him in a neutral gambling den and wagers enough money to pay both Lee and Frank off—if he wins—on a roulette spin. Successful, he walks out, stating he was playing for Frank and Lee.
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Michael K. Williams, Jessica Lange, Sonya Walger, Caitlin O’Connor, Erika Jordan, Anne McDaniels, Anita Liao
Screenplay by: William Monahan
Production Design by: Keith P. Cunningham
Cinematography by: Greig Fraser
Film Editing by: Pete Beaudreau
Costume Design by: Jacqueline West
Set Decoration by: Maggie Martin
Art Direction by: Dawn Swiderski
Music by: Jon Brion, Theo Green
R for language throughout, and for some sexuality / nudity
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: December 19, 2014