Casino Jack

”Casino Jack,” the tale of the rise and fall of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff has the misfortune of being released after "Casino Jack and the U.S.," Alex Gibney’s far more interesting documentary of the same subject, which had played just several months ago.

In the title role, Kevin Spacey gives such a cynical and calculated performance that he makes the greedy, ultra-ambitious Abramoff even less appealing and interesting than he must have been in real life.
 
Paying homage to Scorsese in narrative as well as stylistic terms, the movie begins with a monologue that Abramoff addresses to himself in front of the mirror. He comes across as an upwardly mobile, Jew, hell-bent on acquiring all that the good life—the American Dream–has to offer. To that extent, he plays in the same game as the highest of rollers and resorts to awe-inspiring levels of conning, scheming and fraudulent antics to get all that he desires.
 
Inspired by true events that by all accounts were excessive, “Casino Jack” can’t decide what it thinks of its hero, and thus we go from scenes that celebrate him as a hero to scenes that condemn him as a villain We get a shallow portrait of all wild excesses and escapades of Jack Abramoff.
 
Aided by his business partner Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper), Jack parlays his clout over some of the world's most powerful men with the goal of creating a personal empire of wealth and influence.
The two men pursue their goals by enlisting a mob-connected buddy (Jon Lovitz) to help with one of their illegal schemes. But they soon find themselves in over their heads, getting involved with mafia assassins, murder and a scandal that spins out of control and thus put them under investigation.
 
Ultimately, “Casino Jack” doesn’t succeed as an intriguing biopic of a man who’s now in prison, or a cautionary morality tale about the vices of American capitalism.
 
End Note:.
 
This is the last movie of director George Hickenlooper, who died just one month before the movie’s release. He had previously helmed several indies, such as “Factory Girl” and “The Man from Elysian Fields,“ as well as the impressive docu, “Heart of Darkness.”