The Gambler (2014 film)

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The Gambler
The Gambler poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRupert Wyatt
Produced by
Screenplay byWilliam Monahan
Based onThe Gambler
by James Toback
Music by
CinematographyGreig Fraser
Edited byPete Beaudreau
  • Chartoff/Winkler Productions
  • Closest to the Hole Productions
  • Leverage Entertainment
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • November 10, 2014 (2014-11-10) (AFI Fest)
  • December 25, 2014 (2014-12-25) (United States)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$25–31 million[2][3]
Box office$39.3 million[4]

The Gambler is a 2014 American crime drama film directed by Rupert Wyatt. The screenplay by William Monahan is based on the 1974 film The Gambler, written by James Toback. The remake, starring Mark Wahlberg as the title character, premiered on November 10, 2014 at the AFI Fest,[5] and was theatrically released in the United States on December 25, 2014. It features George Kennedy's final film performance before his death in 2016.


Jim Bennett is a Los Angeles literature professor who uses gambling as a way of self-destruction. He ends up owing $240,000 to Lee, the proprietor of an exclusive, high-stakes underground gambling ring, and another $50,000 to Neville Baraka, a loan shark. Lee gives Jim seven days to pay off his debts or be murdered.

During one of his classes, Jim begins an awkward discussion of literary excellence based on Shakespeare as an example, discussing how almost all aspiring writers fail to accomplish literary excellence. Jim singles out some exemplary athletes in his class for discussion. First he picks Dexter, an emerging tennis star; he later confronts a basketball student star, Lamar Allen, who does not pay attention in class but intends to become an NBA basketball player. Jim expresses his extremist view on achieving excellence in one's field or vocation of choice. If you can't be exemplary, Jim reasons, then you might as well resign yourself to mediocrity. Making a general comment to the class, he tells them that no one but Amy Phillips, a quiet student, is capable of a career in literature. Jim identifies Amy as a potential writing prodigy based on her previous writings in his class, as well as having previously encountered her working surreptitiously as a waitress at the underground gambling house. Amy develops a personal interest in Jim, which he reciprocates.

After the class, Jim visits his mother Roberta at the family's luxury estate, but she says that she will not give him any more money. Jim considers borrowing money from Frank (another loan shark) to consolidate his debts and buy himself some time, but refuses to do so after Frank's demands include that Jim admit “I am not a man”. Jim convinces Roberta to give him enough money to pay off his debts, expressing no gratitude to her, then gambles it all away during a trip to a casino with Amy. Baraka kidnaps Jim, has him tied-up and tortured, and then confronts him with 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.

Jim goes to Frank, who advises him to change his version of a "fuck you" attitude towards life by getting enough money to build a safe house, for protection against his severe gambling losses. Frank lends him $260,000 to pay his debt to Lee, but also threatens to kill everyone in Jim's personal life if he is not repaid. Lee's men assault Jim when he comes to ask Lee to stake him $150,000, saying the only way he can pay his full $410,000 debt to Lee and Frank is to gamble and win. He uses the $150,000 to bribe Lamar into going along with the basketball point-shaving scheme. Jim sends Dexter to Las Vegas to bet on the game with the $260,000 he got from Frank. Lamar succeeds, barely, so Jim uses his winnings to pay his debt to Baraka, denying he knows anything about the large bet made in Vegas.

Jim then convinces both Lee and Frank to meet him in a neutral gambling den, where he wagers enough money to pay both men off—if he wins—on a single roulette spin. Successful, he leaves the money at the club for Lee and Frank. The payment to Frank is more than he owed; Frank finds Jim and offers to give back the “cream” but, to Frank's amusement, Jim responds “Fuck you”. On an apparent adrenaline rush, Jim runs miles through the city to arrive at Amy's apartment; he is broke, but free from debt.




In August 2011, Paramount Pictures announced a remake of the 1974 film The Gambler with the original producers, Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff. Intended as a directorial project for Martin Scorsese, it was reported that Leonardo DiCaprio was attached as the star and William Monahan would write the screenplay.[6]

In a 2011 interview, screenwriter James Toback gave the autobiographical story of the original film's background and development, and criticized the idea of his film being remade.[7]

Scorsese left the project and filmmaker Todd Phillips was in talks to take over as of August 2012.[8] In September 2013, actor Mark Wahlberg and director Rupert Wyatt expressed interest in making the film.[9]


As of October 17, 2013, Brie Larson was in talks to play the female lead role, alongside Wahlberg.[10] On January 15, 2014, Emory Cohen joined the cast of the film, playing one of the professor's students.[11]


Shooting began on January 20, 2014.[12] Wahlberg was spotted during the filming of The Gambler on January 21, in Los Angeles.[13] On February 3, 2014, Wahlberg was spotted on The Gambler set in Downtown Los Angeles.[14] On February 13, Jessica Lange and Wahlberg were spotted again during filming.[15] On March 13, there was a basketball scene filmed in Los Angeles.[16]


On September 8, 2014, it was announced that Jon Brion would be scoring the music for the film,[17] while on October 27, Film Music Reporter revealed that Theo Green composed the score for the film.[18] Universal Music released a soundtrack album for the film on December 15, which features songs from various artists.[19]


The Gambler had its world premiere during the 2014 AFI Fest at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on November 10.[20] Paramount previously set the film for a limited release in the United States on December 19, 2014, for an Oscar-qualifying run strategy, and planned to expand the film on January 1, 2015.[21] But on December 5, Paramount announced the film would be released wide in cinemas on December 25, 2014, instead of the previous platform release plans.[22]

On October 22, 2014, the first teaser poster and red band trailer were released.[23] On November 5, 2014, the green band trailer was released.[24]


The Gambler received a rating of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 141 reviews, the site's consensus reading: "Well-paced and reasonably entertaining in its own right, The Gambler still suffers from comparisons to the James Caan classic that inspired it."[25] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 55 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[26]

Jessica Lange's performance has received critical acclaim. TheWrap wrote that Lange had one of her "meatiest film roles in ages."[27] The Huffington Post described her performance as "ferocious" and capable of "knocking down William Monahan's profanity laced dialogue with gleeful abandon"[28] Also, the Boston Herald described her work as "strikingly memorable",[29] which Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Indiewire have agreed with, terming her "affecting", "stirring", and "terrific".[30][31][32] James Berardinelli from ReelViews described her as "heartbreaking as the cold, rich widow who blames herself on some level for her son's failure."[33] Chris Nashawaty from Entertainment Weekly lauded her acting as effortless by saying "[she] can do icy in her sleep..."[34] Furthermore, Rex Reed from The New York Observer described her performance as "hard" and "venomous".[35] Peter Travers from Rolling Stone described her performance as "reliably superb".[36] Jeff Baker from The Oregonian stated that her acting is "fierce".[37] Indiewire suggested Lange as a contender for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[38] The film received no Academy Award nominations in any category.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Gambler". British Board of Film Classification. October 20, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  2. ^ Hamedy, Saba (December 24, 2014). "'Hobbit' to prevail for 2nd weekend as 'Interview' rolls out". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  3. ^ "2014 Feature Film Study" (PDF). 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 1, 2016.
  4. ^ "The Gambler (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  5. ^ "The World Premiere of The Gambler to Play AFI Fest Presented by Audi". American Film Institute. AFI. October 13, 2014. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  6. ^ Mike Fleming (August 26, 2011). "Leonardo DiCaprio Attached To 'Gambler' Remake At Paramount With Martin Scorsese". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  7. ^ Nikki Finke (August 28, 2011). "James Toback On 'The Gambler' Remake: "Not Possible… Rudeness And Disrespect"". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  8. ^ Siegel, Tatiana; Kit, Borys (August 20, 2012). "Todd Phillips in Talks to Direct First Drama 'The Gambler' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  9. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (September 11, 2013). "Mark Wahlberg And Rupert Wyatt Eyeing 'The Gambler' Remake For Paramount". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  10. ^ Patten, Dominic (October 17, 2013). "Brie Larson In Talks To Join Mark Wahlberg In Paramount Remake 'The Gambler'". Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (January 15, 2014). "'Place Beyond the Pines' Actor Joining Mark Wahlberg in 'The Gambler'". Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  12. ^ "'The Gambler', starring Mark Wahlberg, gearing up to begin filming in L.A." January 17, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  13. ^ Lopez, Johnny (January 22, 2014). "Mark Wahlberg filming new movie The Gambler". Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  14. ^ "Mark Wahlberg Spotted on The Gambler Set". February 4, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  15. ^ Whiteman, Bobbie (February 14, 2014). "Jessica Lange puts Mark Wahlberg in his place as they film scenes for The Gambler". Retrieved February 19, 2014.
  16. ^ "Register now to be in 'The Gambler' with Mark Wahlberg!". February 27, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  17. ^ "Jon Brion to Score Rupert Wyatt's 'The Gambler'". September 8, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  18. ^ "Theo Green Co-Scoring Rupert Wyatt's 'The Gambler'". October 27, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  19. ^ "'The Gambler' Soundtrack Released". December 15, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  20. ^ Hammond, Pete (October 13, 2014). "Mark Wahlberg's Oscar Hopeful 'The Gambler' Set For AFI Fest World Premiere". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  21. ^ McNary, Dave (September 5, 2014). "Mark Wahlberg's 'The Gambler' Set for Awards-Season Run with December Release". Retrieved September 6, 2014.
  22. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 5, 2014). "'The Gambler' Release Date: Paramount All In, Moves It To Christmas Day Wide Bow". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
  23. ^ "Red Band Preview and Poster for The Gambler, Starring Mark Wahlberg". October 22, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  24. ^ "The New Trailer for The Gambler, Starring Mark Wahlberg". November 5, 2014.
  25. ^ "The Gambler (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  26. ^ "The Gambler Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  27. ^ Duralde, Alonso (November 11, 2014). "'The Gambler' Review: Mark Wahlberg Folds Despite a Jackpot of a Supporting Cast". TheWrap. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  28. ^ Jacobs, Matthew; Rosen, Christopher (December 9, 2014). "One Of These 21 Women Will Probably Win Best Supporting Actress At The 2015 Oscars". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  29. ^ Schaefer, Stephen (November 20, 2014). "Who supports Best?". Boston Herald. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  30. ^ Schmidlin, Charlie (November 11, 2014). "AFI Fest Review: 'The Gambler' Starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Brie Larson and Michael K. Williams". Indiewire. Retrieved January 10, 2015. a brief, affecting Jessica Lange
  31. ^ Derakhshani, Tirdad (December 25, 2014). "'The Gambler' wagers big on talent and loses". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved January 10, 2015. Jessica Lange in a stirring, memorable turn
  32. ^ Guzman, Rafer (December 23, 2014). "'The Gambler' review: Low on action and tension". Newsday. Retrieved January 10, 2015. a terrific Jessica Lange
  33. ^ Berardinelli, James (December 24, 2014). "Gambler, The". ReelViews. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  34. ^ Nashawaty, Chris (December 25, 2014). "The Gambler (2014)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  35. ^ Reed, Rex (December 16, 2014). "Wrapping Up the Year in Film". The New York Observer. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  36. ^ Travers, Peter (December 30, 2014). "'The Gambler' Movie Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  37. ^ Baker, Jeff (December 25, 2014). "'The Gambler' review: Mark Wahlberg can't hold 'em or fold 'em". The Oregonian. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  38. ^ Lyttelton, Oliver (October 21, 2014). "Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race?". Indiewire. Retrieved January 10, 2015.

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