Drama (US); 1998;
Rated R; 120 Minutes
Matt Damon: Mike McDermott
Edward Norton: Lester "Worm" Murphy
John Tuturro: Joey Knish
Gretchen Mol: Jo
Famke Janssen: Petra
Produced by Bobby
Cohen, Ted Demme, Tracy Falco, Christopher Goode, Kerry
Orent, Joel Stillerman, Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinst;
Directed by John Dahl; Screenwritten by David
Leuien and Brian Koppelman
by DAVID KEYES
is a satire-like gambling picture about a guy who, for once,
doesn't care if he wins or loses the poker match, just as
long as he's good at the game. This different approach for
the gambling genre might seem like a unique one, but in
the core of its climactic sequence, it is revealed to be
a pointless and irritating mishap of experiences that seem
like they're spun right out of the original "Rocky." While
"Rocky" is bright and ambitious, "Rounders" is disappointing
and fake, because its intentions are predictable as its
characters are uninspired.
about the characters. They stink, but they're performed
well by some good, top-notch actors. Matt Damon is king
here, performing the role of a law student who's obsessed
with gambling, great at losing, and doesn't care. The only
thing he seems to focus on is the quality of his playing
from several different fields, ranging from noticing another
player's weaknesses to telling how the opponent bets on
bad and good hands.
possibilities he faces are endless, but when he goes up
against a champion of the game and emerges the loser, he
requests a rematch, "just for the hell of it."
is a setup that, you may recall, was used in the first two
"Rocky" pictures. He lost the first time, and went up against
Apollo Creed again, "just because."
may make both movies sound almost identical, but they're
actually quite different, not just in content. "Rocky" wasn't
a predictable series right there at the beginning, because
he won the second time, and lost the first. When a movie
portrays images like the ones Stallone plays, you can never
really tell if the boxer will lose or win, succeed or fail.
in "Rounders," Mike, Damon's character, loses both matches,
and we know it, because he's a character that doesn't care
about anything but the quality of his playing. He makes
it easy for us to predict his failures, and he makes it
easier with his attitude towards the game, which, frankly,
makes Rocky's look almost worthless.
are movies with the same idea, but only one, like in these
face-to-face situations, emerges victorious. That, my friend,
is "Rocky." "Rounders" might appeal to other audiences,
like those who are in love with Matt Damon, but as a gambling
picture, it's a gamble for profit and appeal.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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