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Michael Hoffman
Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Tom Courtenay, Stanley Tucci
Writing Credits:
Joel and Ethan Coen

Revenge is a work of art.

An art curator decides to seek revenge on his abusive boss by conning him into buying a fake Monet, but his plan requires the help of an eccentric and unpredictable Texas rodeo queen.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 5/27/2014

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Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Gambit [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 5, 2014)

Did someone declare May 2014 to be “National Movies About Art Theft Month” in the US? Apparently so, as that period produced at least two films about that subject. I enjoyed The Art of the Steal, so I hoped I’d like Gambit, another effort with well-known talent that went direct to video in the States.

Harry Deane (Colin Firth) works as art curator for wealthy media man Lord Lionel Shahbandar (Alan Rickman) – and he hates his arrogant, abusive boss. Along with an expert forger called “The Major” (Tom Courtenay), Harry plans to rip off Lionel via an elaborate scheme.

To succeed in this, Harry recruits American rodeo rider PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz). It happens that her family owns the supposedly long-lost Monet piece “Haystacks”, and Harry knows that Lionel will pay through the nose to own it.

Rather than purchase it outright from PJ, Harry uses her as part of a plan to forge the painting and get the fake to his boss. Of course, this doesn’t go off without complications, so we follow the winding machinations as Harry attempts to get the best of his nasty employer.

Gambit comes with a strong pedigree. Based on a 1966 film with Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, it boasts a script by Joel and Ethan Coen as well as a notable cast that also involves Stabley Tucci. With all that talent behind it, how could it fail to delight?

Despite all those hopes, Gambit doesn’t manage to live up to expectations. At its best, it gives us a watchable affair, but it never manages to become anything more than that.

The movie tends to be slow and leaden where it should dash, and that becomes a problem. Even at a mere 89 minutes, Gambit feels a bit plodding; it doesn’t drag badly, but where it should zip along, it remains sluggish.

One issue comes from the interaction of the actors, as they don’t blend well. Firth seems to semi-channel Michael Caine, and he does so with little charm; while we should root for Harry, we don’t like him enough to care about his success. Diaz proves more likable as PJ, but her broad portrayal means that she seems too phony for us to embrace her. Diaz boasts strong comedic chops but she buries them beneath her mannerisms and accent.

Director Michael Hoffman fails to add the necessary zing to the process. Perhaps the Coens themselves could’ve given the effort the bite it needs, but Hoffman lacks the deft touch to make the movie delight.

In the end, none of this flops, and Gambit occupies our time in a passable manner. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to turn it into a winning effort. The movie semi-wastes its excellent cast and fails to end up as anything more than mediocre.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Gambit appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not the most dynamic Blu-ray I’ve seen, the image satisfied.

For the most part, sharpness appeared strong. However, fine detail was slightly lacking in some wide shots. Although these were minor instances, they meant that the delineation wasn’t quite as consistent as I’d like. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes were absent. Source flaws remained absent.

Gambit provided a subdued palette. Colors tended toward a desaturated bent, but they seemed clear and well-developed within those constraints. Blacks showed good depth and darkness, while shadows were solid. I didn’t think highly enough of the image to merit “A”-level consideration, but I felt pleased with what I saw.

Given the film’s character scope, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Gambit didn’t boast a great deal of dynamic material. Nonetheless, it had its moments. The rodeo scenes offered nice involvement, and other elements opened up the environment in a satisfying way. There wasn’t much to stand out, but the track did what it needed to do.

Audio quality was quite good. Speech was natural and concise, as the lines lacked noticeable concerns. Music was a strong aspect of the mix. The movie featured lots of different musical performances, and these demonstrated solid heft and clarity. Effects didn’t have a ton to do, but they were full and clear; the occasional louder elements showed positive punch as well. While nothing here impressed a ton, the track still was good enough for a “B-“.

The disc opens with ads for That Awkward Moment, Pompeii and The Monuments Men. These also appear under Previews along with a promo for The Pretty One. No trailer for Gambit - or other extras – pop up here.

With a ton of talent behind it, I went into Gambit with high hopes. Although it offered a watchable affair, it never became more than that, as it gave us a spotty comedy. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture and more than acceptable audio but it lacks any supplements. This feels like something to watch on cable when you don’t have anything better to do.

Viewer Film Ratings: -- Stars Number of Votes: 0
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