Review: Gambit

Director: Michael Hoffman

Starring: Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci

Rating: ★★

The original 1966 film Gambit still remains a household favourite worldwide, and with the Coen Brothers scripting this remake, expectations were high.  With Colin Firth leading the cast,, along with Alan Rickman and Cameron Diaz, the film seemed sure to be a hit.  Further to this, Michael Hoffman’s – director of the Oscar nominated The Last Station – presence behind the camera set the film up to be incredible.  Unfortunately, it falls short of these expectations.

Harry Deane (Firth), is a downtrodden art curator who is constantly bullied by his nudist boss, media entrepreneur Lionel Shabandar (Rickman).  Seeking revenge for years of ill-treatment, Deane and his friend and film narrator The Major (Tom Courtenay), a counterfeit painter, recruit hard-drinking Texas rodeo queen PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz) to help pull off an elaborate scheme against Shabandar involving a fake painting of a rare canvas by the Impressionist master Claude Monet.  If the heist goes smoothly, Deane pockets a £12 million payment, while Shabandar is left none the wiser.  However, Shabandar has a few tricks of his own and starts to seduce Puznowski, all the while pulling poor Deane’s plan to shreds.

The film is full of traditional slapstick humour and there are a few good laughs.  But the jokes are forced and perhaps linger for far too long, one of which leaves Firth without trousers for a half-hour of the film.  Needless to say, it gets old fast.  Diaz’s Texan cowgirl accent is over the top, which perhaps lends itself nicely to the over exaggerated tone of the film, but eventually the cliché catchphrases become all too much.

At this point, when the viewer is thinking there is no real shining light in the film, nothing to make you recommend it to anyone… enter Stanly Tucci!  As per usual, Mr. Tucci steals the show.  He plays a snooty, camp, second rate German art curator, bringing the film back to life with skilled humour, a ridiculous accent and a few politically incorrect jokes.

The plot is all over the place and completely illogical.  Although it follows the same fun-filled adventure of the original, it falls flat in its execution.  The chemistry between Firth and Diaz is a little lacking, but that feels more a product of the structure rather than the performers themselves, and while the heist scenes are nicely staged, they lack a sense of surprise or energy.  Firth, true to form, looks and plays the part of the uptight Brit perfectly and cannot be criticised.  This is the part he plays best.  There are a few racial and sexual blows which pull a few laughs, but ultimately, this time around, the Coen Brothers have missed the mark.

Overall, it’s a good fun film with some great cinematography, but certainly doesn’t hit the comedy heights expected from such a fantastic cast and brilliant scriptwriters.  Truthfully, it’s probably worth your while waiting for the DVD rather than shelling out for a ticket to this.  Or better yet, watch the original.

By Gabrielle Lyonsif (document.currentScript) {