Even Money (I) Movie (2006)


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Director Mark Rydell

Producer David S. Greathouse, Mark Rydell, Danny DeVito

Screenplay Hue Rhodes

Writer Robert Tannen

Stars Kim Basinger, Forest Whitaker, Nick Cannon, Kelsey Grammer

Cinematography Giles Nuttgens

Editor Hughes Winborne

Music Dave Grusin

Genre Crime, Drama

Running Time 113 min

Country United States

LanguageEnglish

Cast

Actor Movie Character

Kim Basinger Carolyn Carver

Danny DeVito Walter

Forest Whitaker Clyde Snow

Ray Liotta Tom Carver

Kelsey Grammer Brummer

Tim Roth Victor

Jay Mohr Augie

Grant Sullivan Murph

Carla Gugino Veronica

Nick Cannon Godfrey Snow

Charlie Robinson Coach Washington

Plot

Carolyn Carver (Kim Basinger), a published author working on her second novel, is gambling away her life savings in the casino without the knowledge of her daughter and husband. Meanwhile, her 13-year-old daughter is indulging in sex. She makes friends with (Walter Danny DeVito), a washed-up magician who entertains the guests for tips.

On the other hand, Clyde Snow (Forest Whitaker), is in debt to his to gamblers to the extent of pressuring his younger brother, Godfrey Snow (Nick Cannon), a college basketball whizz, to shave points at the season games. Unfortunately, Coach Washington (Charlie Robinson) becomes aware of the scheme and he is upset.

A pair of young bookies Augie (Jay Mohr) and Murph (Grant Sullivan) are also working as thugs for the violent and abusive Victor (Tim Roth). Victor may or may not be working for an invincible boss who appears to be pulling the shots.

Augie has betrayed their friendship by wearing a wire for detective Brunner (Kelsey Grammer). This does not go well with Victor and eventually plans for Augie’s execution. Having had enough of his wife’s absences, Carolyn’s husband spies on her and he eventually catches her gambling. He even threatens to file for a divorce.

Victor informs Walter of a fixed basketball game. Walter decides to wager his entire savings on the outcome. He also convinces Carolyn of doing the same.

Without their knowledge, Clyde lies to Godfrey that he had already settled his debt and thus there was no need for match-fixing. Nonetheless, Clyde is risking being killed by Victor especially if the game goes wrong. Victor is actually in attendance at the match.

Godfrey showcases his prowess during the game by hitting a match shot in awe of his ever supporting brother. On the contrary, winning the match did put Clyde’s life in danger and he is later gunned down by Victor’s thugs.

The game result is enough to ensure that Carolyn loses both her family and life savings. Agitated by the outcome of the game, Walter heads to Victor’s place to kill him. Detective Brunner is also aware of Walter’s plan but he does not intervene. It is later revealed to us that detective Brunner is an accomplice to the boss whose identity remains unknown throughout the film.

Review

Producer Mark Rydell produces as well as directing a scare drama in Even Money. The plot is all about the dangers of being addicted to gambling. The highly ambitious script by Robert Tannen is presented uniquely. The film has different storylines that gradually merge into a third act.

The casting was incredible and I believe they achieved everything the producer demanded from them. The characters were a match made in heaven. Carolyn Carver plays a writer obsessed with slot machines. Her addiction makes her lose both her family and savings.

Walter is both a magician and a gambler. He plays his magic and he wins over Carolyn as well as playing a part in the loss of her money. Victor plays the master manipulator as well as a suave aggressive monster ready to pounce on anyone that double-crosses him.

Clyde is the indebted lad ready to sacrifice his life at the expense of his basketball whizz brother. The rest of the cast fits in incredibly well and it’s no surprise to me that most of them became award nominees and even winners after featuring in this film.

Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens combines backdrops such as a casino, basketball courts, and empty streets to effectively show the different subplots to the main storyline. The vice of excessive gambling stands out as the main agenda for the producer. However, since he adopted a different approach to the plot, it would have been best if he would have shown more about the subplots.

What happened to Carolyn’s spouse and her sex indulged daughter? What was the main agenda of the invincible Ivan? I was left with more questions than answers even after 113 minutes of watching. I think it would have been best if the producer came up with other sequels

The film is also R rated due to the extreme violence and vulgar language. I tried to grasp some great lessons portrayed in the film. However, being a fan of melodrama the film did not fully satisfy the genre.

For anyone looking for a straight forward film, you should avoid watching this one. It would best suit viewers who like connecting the dots by themselves. A rating of 5.9 out of 10 clearly explains my mixed reception.

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