Awards season is just around the corner and with it, a whole hunk of new releases are being brought to the table for 2015. One particular release that is set to delight Mark Wahlberg fans around the world is the upcoming remake of The Gambler, set to hit US cinema screens on 19th December. The film is paying tribute to the 1974 original, which starred James Caan in the lead role, a literary professor whose gambling habit gets the best of him and sees him borrowing money from his nearest and dearest, before eventually getting in with the wrong crowd.
Now, 40 years later, Wahlberg is taking the lead role, with a character name change and a far more modern take on the dangers of 21st century gambling. Indeed, the film strikes a chord with what is already a controversial issue in popular culture today. While chips may have been the flutter of choice in the 70s, today, online alternatives like Jackpotcity.org are attracting the attentions of gamers. Online gaming has already seen an exponential rise in the last 10 years alone, with wider audiences trying it out every day. The film is doubtless going to attract hordes of young viewers who have enjoyed previous Wahlberg films like Ted – if such an impressionable audience are seeing gambling to be glamourised, could they soon be heading to these aforementioned sites?
But while he may be bringing something modern to The Gambler, could it perhaps be time to ask: has Mark Wahlberg done the remake to death? The 43-year-old explained his motivations for the movie, saying: “I love the idea of switching it up. I had just done Transformers. I was going to do Ted 2. I always like to do the opposite of the last thing I did. And I saw the challenge in being believable as a literary professor.”
Well, there's certainly no questioning his versatility. Wahlberg has played a bewildered captain in Planet of the Apes, and a street smart con artist in the Italian Job – the latter receiving far better reviews than the former.
Commitment to the cause is also something which cannot be doubted in Wahlberg's case: in preparation for the role, he dropped an incredible 60 pounds to embody the troubled literary professor. It's a dedication that earned Jared Leto an Academy Award for Dallas Buyers Club, but will Wahlberg have the same fortune?
Doubtless The Gambler certainly has its perks, including a stellar supporting cast featuring the maternal charms of Jessica Lange and the all-guns-blazing attitude of John Goodman.
The film has managed to rack up a respectable 6.8 rating so far, but it will truly be in the hands of the critical American audience as to whether Wahlberg's latest remake will be his last.