Friday, September 10, 2021

The Card Counter - Movie Review

The Movie: The Card Counter

The Director: Paul Schrader

The Cast: Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan, Willem Dafoe

The Story: Redemption is the long game in the story of an ex-military interrogator turned gambler haunted by the ghosts of his past.

The Review:
Basically, this movie is a vehicle for Oscar Isaac to showcase his acting ability, his star power, and his ability to elevate those around him. The story was written by Paul Schrader, he also directed the movie, a man who is probably most known for writing Taxi Driver, the movie that featured the legendary performance from Robert De Niro, back in 1976. This movie really feels like Schrader is looking for Isaac to deliver something like hat De Niro did although the material doesn't really live up to that standard. Isaac's character, an ex con named William Tell, has that low key intensity that is always there under the surface but also always kept under control.

While watching the movie, I got the feeling that a switch could get flipped at any moment and his dark past would resurface causing all kinds of chaos and destruction. Well, kind of. I'm not going to give all the details away but by the end of the first act, you'll probably have figured it all out anyway as the rest is very predictable and felt very generic and pushed in a very specific and inevitable direction. For me, this is where the movie lost any of the intensity or high stakes drama that Schrader was trying to build. There was no surprise whatsoever it was just like, okay I think this is what will happen next and oh yup. There it is. Or once something does happen, I was like, yeah, that was the obvious and easy way to go.

What makes the movie passable and somewhat watchable is Isaac's performance. As I mentioned, this movie is basically like, hey everyone, here's this great actor, watch him act and watch how cool he looks on screen. Pairing him up with Tiffany Haddish was a very smart move as she was up to the task of matching his energy and especially as they get to know each other more and more if you know what I mean. On the flip side of that, Tye Sheridan brings absolutely nothing to the table with his portrayal of a young man who is lost in life and is working on a scheme that would lead him down a very dark road. There's nothing about the way he plays this role that is interesting or makes you feel anything about him at all which is another thing that kills the movie for me.

The Verdict:
The Card Counter is not a movie you should count on as the cards were just not in favor of this being anything beyond a showcase for Oscar Isaac's acting ability. The movie is a slow, deliberate slog through material that suffers from being predictable and just not very interesting.

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