Jim (Mark Wahlberg) and his girlfriend Amy (Brie Larson) are about to lose a lot of money in The Gambler.

Reel Reviews: Double feature The Gambler and Good Kill are winning bets

Good Kill and The Gambler are two good movies that you might have missed.

  • Apr. 19, 2015 7:00 p.m.

Good Kill is the story of a drone pilot in the U.S. Airforce, Tom Egan (Ethan Hawke) who, along with his team, kills the enemy remotely, from the safety of an air-conditioned shipping container near Las Vegas, then they drive home to their families every night.

When the voice on the other end of the phone, “Langley” (Peter Coyote, literally calling it in), begins ordering hits on more and larger groups of people, Egan and the other officers begin having trouble carrying out those orders.

English professor by day and a gambler by night, Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) risks his life by perpetually borrowing money from gangsters to pay his debts. A compulsive gambler, even when his well-to-do mother (Jessica Lange) reluctantly gives him the money to pay the debt, he’s unable to help himself. Bennett is philosophic about the beatings he takes and seems oddly prepared to die, until Amy (Brie Larson), a bright student, snaps Bennett out of his existential funk.

We say, “Good Kill and The Gambler are two good movies that you might have missed.”

TAYLOR: I thought The Gambler was more fun than Good Kill, but the latter might be the better movie of the two.

The Gambler really feels like a rough interpretation of Albert Camus’ classic existentialist novel The Stranger. Professor Bennett even discusses the novel in his English class.

Like Mersault, the main character from the book, Bennett loses a parent at the beginning, hates his job, associates with shady characters, has an inappropriate relationship with a young lady and ultimately sees the continuation of his life as irrelevant. Unlike The Stranger he seems to snap out of it.

The only thing that hurts the film is Marky Mark waxing philosophic. It was pretentious, sometimes boring and I didn’t buy it.

HOWE: I agree with your statement about Good Kill being the better movie out of the two.

I found Good Kill to be a very interesting film. I would even say this is the best film about the Afghanistan war I have seen since we began writing reviews. It gives a different view of how the troops are fighting over there, rather than just the run-of-the-mill solider movies like Lone Survivor, Zero Dark Thirty or American Sniper.

Hawke gives one of his better performances in a long time, proving that his talent in Training Day wasn’t just a one off. He gives some real emotion to his character and you can see it in his facial expressions. He is torn between doing what he is told to do and what he thinks he should do.

TAYLOR: The problem with Good Kill is that it’s kind of a bummer. Sociologically, politically, it’s supposed to be a conversation starter, but really it’s just ugly, pulling back the curtain on the personal damage to those who use overgrown radio-controlled planes for sanctioned assassinations. Hawke is an alcoholic who can’t examine his virtue, without jeopardizing his job.

The Gambler is nothing but self-examination, finding nothing, maybe lust. At least in The Gambler you’ll see John Goodman as a Jabba the Hutt-like gangster, shaving his head in the sauna. Depending on your mood, I recommend seeing both movies when they are made available to you.

– Howe gives The Gambler 3 chips out of 5 and Good Kill 4 slugs of vodka out of 5.

– Taylor gives both movies 3.5 anti-depressant prescriptions out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are movie reviewers based in Vernon, B.C.


Just Posted

Scammer targeting elderly in Kelowna with broken-down vehicle story

A door to door scammer is in Kelowna, targeting seniors according to Kelowna RCMP

Accident north of Vernon causing minor delays

SUV and semi truck involved in crash at Highway 97 and Stickle Road

Ontario driver rolls car near Vernon

Crash in Coldstream follows reports of erratic driving

City of Vernon supports variances with minimal opposition

Four housing variance permits will bring more than 90 new residences to Vernon

Armstrong seeks public input on cannabis retail shops

Online survey and mail-out to be conducted; public hearing/open house to be held for input

Weekend weather update: Crisp and sunny

This weekend will see lots of sunshine and below season temperatures for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

Kal Rotary fundraiser leads to wheelchair van purchase

The $39,000 awarded by Kalamalka Rotary was instrumental in securing the $56,000 needed.

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

$224.5 million announced for Highway 1 bridge replacement in Sicamous

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says bridge option will be announced next month

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Okanagan volunteers reflect on building classrooms in Nepal

Through the charity Her International, the volunteer group built four classrooms

Ontario driver rolls car in Okanagan

Crash near Vernon follows reports of erratic driving

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

Most Read