Can a movie written by the Coen brothers be anything less than satisfying? Rarely so, but yes and Gambit proves that to be true. A remake of the 1966 movie starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, this heist-comedy is an uninspired bit of filmmaking.
Harry Deane (Colin Firth) is an art curator in London working for the repugnant multi-millionaire, Lord Lionel Shabandar (Alan Rickman). Shabandar is an abusive man of sorts who wastes no opportunity to show anyone and everyone down, including Harry. Tired of his shenanigans, Harry plans to pull off a heist involving a painting his Boss covets, Monet’s Haystacks at Dusk, to have as a companion piece to his other Monet, Haystacks at Dawn. When he learns of the location of the painting in the hands of a Texan rodeo queen, PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz), he and his man-friday, The Major (Tom Courtenay) put a plan into motion to steal the real one and sell a fake one to Shabandar.
The movie’s pacing is erratic and moves painfully slow to start off with, attaining no clear direction and seeming more like a pastiche of random encounters between the characters thrown in for good measure without the hint of a plot being built. When things do get rolling, a fair bit of anticipation for grander things is built only to be destroyed in a haze of anti-climatic bickering. There is little style to the proceedings, none of the dialogue really has much wit and Cameron Diaz’s character is just outright irritating.
If I do count Cameron Diaz out, the rest of the cast does manage to salvage things a little bit. Colin Firth does what he’s good at; being Colin Firth. Tom Courtenay is quite affable though they could have chopped off the voiceover bit. Alan Rickman is the only one who really seems to be having all the fun, he’s a bulldozer in a room full of lawnmovers, and by far the best thing about the movie.
‘Gambit’ is not a bad movie, just extremely ‘Meh’. Other than Alan Rickman’s crazy performance, it has little else to offer.