When a Princeton masters student Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake) who is also an active online poker player who gambles regularly to pay the tuition fees finds out he was cheated in the last game he played, where he lost all his money, he decides to travel to Costa Rica and take on the Kingpin of Online Poker, Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). The moment he lands into Costa Rica, termed as Gamblers Paradise he is sucked into the glittering money making business of online poker and gambling and before he even realizes he becomes Ivan Blocks Protege. Richie doped in money oversees the snakes in the basket and lets them crawl up to him when FBI Agent Shavers gives him a lemon shot brings him back to reality and exposes Blocks Money laundering crimes. Agent Shavers threatens him from banning him from the states if he doesn’t help him in getting tangible evidence against Block. When Ritchie confronts Block with the truth that recently dawned on him, Block snubs it off saying it happens to everyone who works for him. The real cat and dog chase begins from here where neither Block nor Ritchie or the viewer know who is cheating whom.
Sadly that chase doesn’t have enough adrenaline to keep on the pace throughout the length of the film. The Story builds up nicely until the interval but falls like a house of cards in the post interval moments. The real problem with the script is that is doesn’t focus on the details which make a good thriller. The Transition of Richie from a Princeton student to Professional Gambling businessman is vague and callously portrayed. The Chemistry between the two leads who are quite commendable actors is diluted by the non-indulgent dialogues of the characters. They could have been a Rocket but the script underutilized the talents of both the actors makes them at most a Car ride which is smooth but doesn’t pack enough punch to be a good thriller.
The performance of both the actors is top notch specially Ben Affleck who is totally into the character as always and delivers some fantastic dialogues, the best being “the Voice that you hear at the back of your head is not your conscience, its fear”. There are couple of other sequences where both actors get opportunities to showcase their talent but it’s simply not enough to keep you engrossed throughout.
The ending of the movie also suffers from the callousness mentioned above and it just doesn’t feel satisfying in the end. It feels like the climax was written and executed in a hurry ,it is so unreal that you don’t even realize the movie ends this way.
Overall it’s a disappointing show as the expectations after watching trailer were high but in the end it was just another lukewarm drink with no shots of caffeine.
Overall Rating – 2.5/5