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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Cameron Diaz
Stanley Tucci
Alan Rickman
Colin Firth.
Directors
Michael Hoffman.
Screenwriters
Ethan Coen
Joel Coen.
Running Time
TBC minutes

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Gambit
Heist and dry


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Plot
Art expert Harry Deane (Firth) enlists a forger (Tom Courtenay) and a Texan rodeo champion (Diaz) in a plot to defraud his odious employer, media baron Lord Shahbandar (Rickman). However, despite meticulous planning, the caper seems to veer off course.


Review
Gambit
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This loose remake of the 1966 Michael Caine-Shirley MacLaine-Herbert Lom entry in that decade’s sophisticated heist cycle opens with Pink Panther-like cartoon credits and a busy, burbly score to indicate that it is supposed to be funny. The approach is slightly too forced, which is a shame since the cast are strong enough to let us make our minds up about how amusing they are. Practised British underplayers Colin Firth, Tom Courtenay and Alan Rickman (who compete in dryness) are set against pull-out-all-the-stops Americans Cameron Diaz (who is still obliged to strip down to skimpy underwear in most of her films) and Stanley Tucci (as a funny foreigner).

The high concept of the original is the contrast between the protagonist’s smooth fantasy of a perfect crime with the more farcical reality of its execution. For instance, in the hero’s imagination, his Texan aide is a silent woman of mystery, but in actuality she won’t shut up and never sticks to the plan. The Coen brothers’ script retains this gag, but swiftly skips through the imaginary crime set-up, as if it were a trailer for the main attraction, to get to the more bumbling version — though it withholds key information and plays unfair in order to set up some third-act twists that undermine the whole premise of the movie. Firth starts out homaging Caine with his horn-rimmed cool but soon defaults to his usual repressed British clod mode, spending an inordinate amount of time teetering on a ledge of the Savoy hotel without his trousers.

This sort of thing needs a very light touch — frankly, lighter than Ronald Neame managed in 1966 — and certainly more adroitness than Michael Hoffman (The Last Station, One Fine Day) displays here. There are things to like, mostly sidelong looks or wry line-readings from Courtenay and Rickman, and there’s always pleasure in the mechanics of ripping off someone horrid who doesn’t deserve the money or the art collection. However, over-reliance on farts, nudity and toilet gags lands this a notch or so below The Truth About Charlie or The Thomas Crown Affair and The Italian Job remakes.


Verdict
A few smiles and some fraying charm, but big laughs are missing. This just about gets away with it rather than romps off with the loot.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Gambit
Empire Star Rating

A so-so heist film with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz who try to get their hands on two rare and expensive paintings. They try to take them from rich art collector Alan Rickman. Typical middle of the road all-star vehicle that every now and again is entertaining and has nice parts but overall it doesn`t get enough out of its story /b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 22:08, 17 March 2014 | Report This Post


They don't make 'em like they used to.

A movie that seems trapped between wanting to be a haphazard farce and a slick heist story, and sadly it achieves neither. Much like the forgeries that are the centrepiece of the film, Gambit may have the requisite brush-strokes, but it lacks feeling. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 19:21, 25 November 2012 | Report This Post


Gambit is a con that ain't on.

Promoted as "Written by Joel and Ethan Coen", audiences may come in expecting edgier Fargo or Burn After Reading Territory. Just don't Gambit is more similar to the Coen's Ladykillers remake, in that it is a film that leaves you feeling nothing (not hate, not love). One of the Coen's weakest writing efforts, perhaps there is a reason its taken 15 years to release and thusly feels so dated. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JJB888 at 00:30, 23 November 2012 | Report This Post


Cameron Diaz...

What Happens in Vegas, The Box, My Sister's Keeper, the Charlie's Angels films, The Sweetest Thing... Why do people still put Cameron Diaz in their films? It's not that she's a terribe actress, it's more than she's so detestable. All her parts of late are just impossible to watch. I guess I've stopped loving Cameron Diaz ever since I saw Lost In Translation with Anna Faris playing a pretty accurate version of her. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Toursiveu at 08:56, 19 November 2012 | Report This Post


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