Poker is something that has fascinated me for quite some time. There are so many little things that can affect a round and not just luck like most people assume. Of course there is a little luck involved when it comes to what cards you get, but there is also a lot of strategy involved, mainly to know when to raise, fold or go all-in. Then you also need to be able to read a person to find out if they got a great hand that will win them the game or a hand that makes them nervous, gotta know a little about human psychology. But that isn’t important now since we are not playing as much as watching people play.
Ladies and gents… “Rounders”.
Our story follows young poker genius Mike McDermott (Matt Damon). He is retired from poker and gambling after something that happened during a game against Russian poker player Teddy KGB (John Malkovich). But now he lives a quiet life with his girlfriend Jo (Gretchen Mol), he studies law and he generally seems to have it pretty decent. Then when his old friend Lester “Worm” Murphy (Edward Norton) gets released from prison he has to get back into the world of poker to help his friend pay off some brutal loan sharks. And the plot is intriguing in that sense. It is a nice plot to see how these two work everything to try to get the money together to pay off these loan sharks. The problem however is that it would be even better if there was any genuine suspense in the plot. Believe me, I think the plot is great but I feel that it needed a bit more suspense. But it was pretty good overall.
The characters in this movie are all varied, colorful and really well-acted. But shouldn’t come as a surprise considering some of the main stars of the movie are Matt Damon, Edward Norton and John Malkovich. But htye all have personalities and they all fill their seats perfectly. I think my favorite character in the movie however might be Worm (Surprise, Surprise). Not only because he is played by my favorite actor (Edward Norton) but also because of his dry wit, quick mouth and overall “loveable asshole” style. And Edward Norton plays him perfectly! But I do in general think all characters are great.
The score was done by Christopher Young and really fits the style of the movie. A lot of piano in a sort of jazzy style was used to great effect to get the dry wit style of our two main characters and the poker. There were a few tracks that were also a bit more slow and calm but they were great too. There was also a good mix of licensed tracks in there that really worked for everything.
This movie was shot pretty well. I mean, John Dahl has never been known as a visionary director (Sidenote: I had never heard of him until this movie) but he knew how to make the movie look pretty good. Also, remember all that rambling I did in the beginning about how poker worked? Yeah, Matt Damon explained that in the movie in a similar way and I thought it might fit here. And just to make sure and not confuse you, this isn’t a comedy even if the promotional material make it look like that, this is a drama with a lot of dry wit and clever dialogue. Sound good? Great!
This movie was pretty well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes the movie got a 65% positive rating. On Metacritic the movie has a score 0f 54/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3/4 stars. And imdb.com has a score of 7,4/10 for “Rounders”.
“Rounders” is a movie with a good plot that could use a little more suspense, colorful characters powered by great performances, a really good score, good direction/camera work and some great dialogue. Time for my final score. Where the hell is it… oh there, under the poker chips. Oops. My final score for “Rounders” is a 8,99/10. It is a really good movie that is definitely worth buying.
Review of “Rounders” is completed.
I told you I might’ve been able to squeeze a review in before I traveled to Rome!