Monday, February 7, 2011
CASINO JACK (2010)
Directed By: George Hickenlooper
Written By: Norman Snider
Cinematography By: Adam Swica
Editor: William Steinkamp
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Jon Lovitz, Barry Pepper, Kelly Preston, Maury Chaykin, Graham Greene
While the performance of Kevin Spacey is good and reminds you that when he tries he can be quite an engaging and charismatic performer. He always seems like he would be a good host of a party, Talk-Show, Awards event. He comes across like a performer rather then ever as a realistic character. This film puts him back into my graces after feeling that in his last few films he was more doing it for a paycheck and therefore showing that amount of effort. He is one of the few things the film has going for it.
The film based on Jack Abramoff a lobbyist who among the many crimes he was convicted of included Bribery and Stealing money from businesses and charities he was representing. He had a lot of side deals which led to more illegal activity ranging from Murder to Racketeering.
Now I was familiar with this story before from watching the documentary CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY which I can’t recommend highly enough. So I had insight into the story, I understand that for a narrative film you can’t include everything he did and all the details of it. So most of it is brushed over and only a few incidents are brought into focus and really examined.
The film plays fast and loose and makes the things that happen look not as interesting as they could. It feels like a first draft more then a finished script. It more plays like a tv-movie more then a feature. Jon lovitz seems like he is more of a comedic character then a factual one. He gives a great performance but in the wrong type of movie. The film is enjoyable but it feels like it is all surface. It never seems to dig to deep into anything. Which is a shame considering what the film could have been. The film plays out like it always has a sly smile on it’s face. The tone never settles it always seems to shift. So as a audience member that is how you feel which begins to make you uneasy.
I wish I could say the film was good. I would say if you are looking for something just to watch and be entertained by you can’t go wrong with this film, But if you are looking for something great. This is not the film for you. The sad part is that this is director George Hickenlooper’s last film. I wish he could have went out on a better note for his legacy. This film isn’t embarrassing but it just seems to sit there rather then anyone putting any effort into it.