Dead-cert winner that hits the Mark


IT'S A world away from comedy with Ted and The Other Guys as Mark Wahlberg takes a dark turn with The Gambler.

And I reckon it's his best performance yet, playing a college professor with a serious addiction to gambling and what seems like a death wish.

Jim Bennett (Wahlberg) is a brilliant literature professor with a comfy life and rich mother (Jessica Lange) - but he seems determined to get himself into trouble at every turn.

And the company he keeps could land him in an early grave - with him owing $240,000 to underworld gambling boss Mr Lee (Alvin Ing) and $50,000 to loan shark Neville Baraka (Michael K Williams). His solution? Borrow some more money from Frank (John Goodman), who's an even more dangerous loan shark.

Along the way, he strikes up a relationship with student Amy Phillips (Brie Larson), and gets sporty students Dexter (Emory Cohen) and Lamar Allen (Anthony Kelley) to use their incredible talents to make him a few bucks.

The roulette scenes are achingly tense, the relationship with (admittedly underwritten) Amy is touching, and the underworld characters are all brilliantly written, if a little too nice to a sure-fire loser.

With a kickass soundtrack, this is one of the best releases of the year. Unmissable.

DVD EXTRAS: Making-of featurettes and insight, location specials and deleted scenes.