Two For The Money

Two For The Money


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Having impressively cut his teeth with popular cop show The Shield, D J Caruso (possibly the coolest name in the industry) brings us his second big-screen feature. With a snappy trailer, the always-watchable Al Pacino and a tagline literally lifted from 80s stockbroking classic Wall Street (“Greed Is Good”), Two For The Money looked like it would definitely be worth watching.

After a serious injury prevents a career in American Football, wholesome niceguy Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey) ends up working for a minimum-wage sports-betting advice line. Thanks to a talent for predicting winners Brandon is soon recruited by the head of a large betting advice company, Walter Abrams (Pacino) and placed at the centre of a multimillion dollar empire. However, when his hot streak goes cold and the pressure becomes unbearable, it seems Walter’s level-headed wife Toni (Rene Russo) might be the only way out.

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While most reviewers were fairly unkind with their reviews (the word ‘savage’ comes to mind), there’s a lot to be admired in Two For The Money. The pace is unrelenting without being brainless, there’s some excellent material about people addicted to losing (Pacino’s speech in the gamblers anonymous meeting is the crux of the movie) and it’s hard not to get swept up in the ride that Brandon is taking. Just so you know, ‘ride’ doesn’t just mean the bit with Jaime King.

On the other hand, the plot is reasonably generic. With a mixture of Boiler Room (insider view of morally-questionable high-pressure industry), The Recruit (the father-figure nurturing the young talent) and Wall Street (success hungry protégé led to riches by greedy mentor), the only people in the audience who won’t know what’s going to happen next are those that haven’t seen a movie before. As for what happens to Armand Assante’s mobster character or Brandon’s father after he tries to get in touch, who knows.

In terms of the cast, the ripped McConaughey proves he has a decent performance in him, Russo brings a lot to the table despite much less screen time than the other leads and Jeremy ‘Ari from Entourage’ Piven is excellent as always. As for Pacino, while this might not be a role he’ll be remembered for, the diminutive icon is on intense form with constant bursts of explosive shoutyness and unpredictable outbreaks. Remember that scene in Heat where he asks a character why he likes a girl and answers himself: “CAUSE SHE’S GOT A GREAT ASS!”? Well, his performance here is like that, but for two hours.

Overall, Two For The Money won’t win any awards, but its enjoyable in a ‘I know what’s going to happen next but don’t mind’ kinda way. While Caruso might not hit the jackpot, he goes all in and definitely comes out ahead.

Reviewed on: 07 Dec 2008
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The fabulously rich world of high stakes gambling has a dark, manipulative side.
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Hotcow **1/2

Director: D J Caruso

Writer: Dan Gilroy

Starring: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Armand Assante, Jeremy Piven, Jaime King, Kevin Chapman, Ralph Garman, Gedde Watanabe

Year: 2005

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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