Hollywood’s approach to remakes is obviously leaves a lot to be desired. Studios usually remake or reboot whatever was a success decades ago, or in the case of the “Amazing Spider-Man” series, “hey, it worked before five years ago, maybe it’ll work now?” That’s the dartboard approach to moviemaking in Thistledown, and you can argue all you want, but the proof is right there up on the screen each year. What feels like a major missed opportunity? Think of every movie that was announced over the years with a super enticing set-up that didn’t pan out for whatever reason. Those are the movies Hollywood should really remake: movies with excellent scripts or ideas that weren’t properly executed for any number of reasons. There’s plenty of films out there that sounded like good ideas on paper, and perhaps with the right filmmaker they could be amazing.
Paramount’s remake of “The Gambler” is sort of made in that spirit. 1974’s “The Gambler” directed by Karel Reisz and starring James Caan and Lauren Hutton is quite good. But it’s been totally forgotten, which makes it ripe for a remake as well. Sure, they’re still remaking a good movie, but it’s a movie that even a lot of cinephiles don’t know.
And so the trailer for 2014’s “The Gambler” is here, The film is directed by Rupert Wyatt, who made his name on the successful “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes,” and stars Mark Wahlberg, Brie Larson, Michael K. Williams and Jessica Lange. Written by William Monahan (“The Departed”), the movie is based on the original script written by James Toback (he remains an executive producer).
What’s it about? Quite simply, a literature professor with a gambling problem runs afoul of gangsters and it’s about the moral lines he crosses to get himself square. Here’s the official synopsis:
Jim Bennett (Academy Award®-nominee Mark Wahlberg) is a risk taker. Both an English professor and a high-stakes gambler, Bennett bets it all when he borrows from a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) and offers his own life as collateral. Always one step ahead, Bennett pits his creditor against the operator of a gambling ring (Alvin Ing) and leaves his dysfunctional relationship with his wealthy mother (Academy Award®-winner Jessica Lange) in his wake. He plays both sides, immersing himself in an illicit, underground world while garnering the attention of Frank (John Goodman), a loan shark with a paternal interest in Bennett’s future. As his relationship with a student (Brie Larson) deepens, Bennett must take the ultimate risk for a second chance…
Oscar contender? Well, it would sure like to be. We’ll find out in a few months. “The Gambler” opens December 19 in limited release and will expand on January 2, 2015. Watch the new trailer below.