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Gambit - Review


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

GIVEN the talent assembled for this latest remake you’d be forgiven for thinking that Gambit is a sure thing. But don’t be deceived by this con caper, for the reality is completely different.

Michael Hoffman’s film struggles to generate the required laughs, feels overlong and unengaging and even features some poor performances. Coming from a script that’s been penned by Joel and Ethan Coen that’s especially disappointing.

The plot finds put-upon art scout Harry Deane (Colin Firth) resolving to put one over his obnoxious boss (Alan Rickman) by persuading him to buy a highly prized (but forged) painting.

In order to do so, he enlists the help of a Texan cow-girl (Cameron Diaz). But while the plan looks fool-proof, it’s execution is far from perfect.

Hoffman’s film ought to have been an easy crowdpleaser with the brains to match but it gets almost everything wrong by attempting to go for a farce in the style of The Pink Panther.

Firth, to be fair, emerges with reputation intact and even manages to steal a few laughs (particularly during an extended trouserless sequence at The Savoy). But he’s the exception to the rule.

Rickman, especially, disappoints by playing hysterically OTT. This is not one of his vintage villains. While Diaz plays to type and struggles to endear, Stanley Tucci overdoes his rival art dealer and even Tom Courtenay feels out of place and burdened with annoying voiceover responsibilities.

But then the Coens’ screenplay lacks the brothers’ trademark quality, missing out on character depth or nuance. If anything, it adheres to the worst elements of stiff upper lip British farce.

And Hoffman’s direction is largely flat and definitely uninspired. The comedic set pieces feel forced and any intended tension non-existent.

Gambit is therefore an ill-advised folly that threatens to be a blight on the CVs of just about everyone involved.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 90mins
UK Release Date: November 21, 2012