Directed by Mike Hodges, written by Paul Mayersberg, 91 minutes.
Movie, DVD Review
Movie, DVD Review
Director Mike Hodges--whose classic thriller, “Get Carter,” is one of the best British gangster movies ever--knows a few things about the risks of writing, the risks of love and the risks of gambling, which he seamlessly brings together in his terrific film, “Croupier.”
Just as in Stephen Soderbergh’s 1999 film, “The Limey,” “Croupier” is a cold, emotionally removed film that feels as if it were directed by a street-smart sociopath--one who beat the hell out of his inner-child.
Infused with chilly detachment and underscored with noir, the film features a character as icy and as aloof as Terrence Stamp’s Wilson in “The Limey”--or Michael Caine’s Jack Carter in “Get Carter".
That character is Clive Owen’s Jack Manfred, a mysterious writer who becomes a croupier at a London casino only to get caught up in a hive of intrigue that threatens to bring him down morally, financially, physically and emotionally.
Recalling a young Sean Connery and a smarter, far more restrained Nicolas Cage, Owens (“Close My Eyes,” “Bent”) is absolutely confident, magnetic, smooth and mesmerizing. This is the kind of performance that galvanizes a career and turns an actor into a star, which is exactly what happened to Owen.
It’s also the sort of film where discussing too much of the plot threatens to ruin the experience of watching all that unravels, so we’ll leave it at this: The film works because of what it keeps hidden; it becomes a thriller because of the energy it ignites in all that it conceals; it uses evasion as a means to a gripping end.
It’s deliberate in its ambiguity--and pointedly ambiguous in its details. It has little interest in its characters other than to use them to mount the film’s underlying mystery--what happens when a croupier decides to bet against the odds and gamble with his life?
The answer might surprise you.