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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, October 06, 2014

Movie Review - Gambit

Gambit (2014)
Starring Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, and Tom Courtenay
Directed by Michael Hoffman
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

The fact that Gambit, a film toplined by the quite famous Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz, failed to get a theatrical release of any kind despite the celebrities attached should've keyed me in to the quality of the flick.  In addition, not only were Diaz and Firth starring, but the film was written by Joel and Ethan Coen whom are sometimes worthy of your time.  I admittedly go back and forth on my feelings towards these popular director/screenwriters, but a lot of their flicks are at least solid.  So with this big name Hollywood talent, how did Gambit not even muster a limited release in theaters?

Admittedly, Gambit is not as bad as its lack of a theatrical release of any kind would implicate.  Unfortunately, it's not very good either.  As the film opens, we meet Harry Deane (Firth) who begrudgingly works for the very rich London businessman Lionel Shahbander (Alan Rickman).  Lionel loves art and one of his favorite pieces is a work by Monet called Haystacks, part of a series of paintings focusing on the titular objects.  It's been Lionel's mission in life to get another painting in the series and Deane sees this as opportunity to pull a fast one on his boss.

A piece from Monet's Haystacks series was stolen by the Germans in WWII and, according to legend, was then taken by an American soldier after a successful attack on a German bunker.  Deane comes up with the brilliant idea to find one of this solider's descendants and, with the help of his master art forger (Tom Courtenay), convince Shahbander that a fake Haystacks is in fact the real deal.  In order to milk Shahbander of his money, Deane finds Texas cowgirl PJ Puznowski (Diaz) as the true descendant, but her rough around the edges demeanor will prove quite the challenge for Deane to reel in.

Gambit attempts to ape those classic capers of the 1960s in tone and style, but it never quite gets there.  (Gambit is actually a remake of a 1966 film.)  All the characters are rather one-dimensional, attempts at comedy are lukewarmly successful at best, and the direction doesn't have the vigor needed in order to keep the lighthearted romp briskly moving in an engaging manner.  While I've certainly seen worse direct-to-video flicks, Gambit doesn't change the stigma attached to films that forego the theatrical route.

The RyMickey Rating:  C-

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