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(Review originally written at 24 May 2008)

What a cast...and what a waste of it. Seriously, when a movie has Gabriel Byrne, Jamie Foxx, Thandie Newton, Stuart Townsend, Hal Holbrook, Melanie Griffith and Sylvester Stallone in it you would expect some quality. The movie is however one big mess with a unlikely story that can't seem to stop putting twist and turns in it. Yeah, I think that they thought they were really being clever with all of it.

The story is not only messy and unlikely, it also isn't exactly terribly original. It uses elements from earlier and much better poker game based movies. But to me it were really the many pointless twist and turns in the movie that did it. It made the story such an unlikely one to watch. On top of that the script remains filled with a lot of holes silly poker game errors and things that just don't make an awful lot of sense. Why would any one above all things want to play against a card player that is known as the best cheater in the game. This is what the movie is about and builds up to but just didn't ever made a lot of sense to me.

Despite that the movie has a great cast, it still feels as if most actors were miscast in their roles. I don't know what it is about Stuart Townsend. He is a good actor but in most roles he plays he always feels out of place. Perhaps it are his looks, I don't known. This basically also was the reason why he got replaced in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring". Also Thandie Newton isn't much good and actually quite annoying in her 'strong' female role. And what was the point of having Melanie Griffith in this? Oh, I guess I could go on about the movie its casting and could complaining even some more about the way too limited screen time the Jamie Foxx character gets but I guess you get my point by now.

Damian Nieman just isn't much of an original writer/director and on top of that he also doesn't handle his own material very well. Scenes often feel disjointed, it tries to put in way too many characters and everything about the movie is shallow and in a way predictable. On top of that the movie features some bad editing at times, which also doesn't help to make this movie look like one seamless whole. The movie was also one major box office bomb and no wonder that Damian Nieman hasn't made a movie ever since.

A too big mess to make you enjoy this movie.

4/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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