‘Gambit’ review: This gambit doesn’t pay off

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'Gambit' review: Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman in the Gambit movie keyart

Gambit review in a nutshell: You’ll be shocked at the amount of talent in front and behind the camera that was squandered to make this extremely dumb movie.

Movie synopsis

In a bid to con his abusive boss and media tycoon Lord Lionel Shabandar (Alan Rickman) into purchasing a fake Monet painting, Harry Deane (Colin Firth) — an art curator so dumb, you wonder how he was hired — enlists the help of rodeo queen PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz) to fool his boss into believing that his expert forgery is the real deal. However, the con is harder to pull off than they thought, and Harry and PJ get sucked into stupider and stupider situations as they try to see the job through to the end.

Would I recommend you watch it?

Only if you want to see Colin Firth make a fool out of himself. And your tolerance for stupidity is high.

Click here to jump to the bottom for where you can watch Gambit.

Or continue reading for a full review with some spoilers.

Full review of Gambit (with some spoilers)

If the stellar duo of Colin Firth and Alan Rickman, and the prestigious pedigree of the Coen brothers writing the screenplay had attracted you to Gambit — a movie which has nothing to do with the X-Men character, by the way — you will be sorely disappointed. And befuddled that Colin Firth agreed to be in this film.

The synopsis on IMDb sounds innocuous enough: “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.”

Which leaves you completely unprepared for the surprise, 10 minutes into the movie, when you realise that Harry Dean (Colin Firth) is not so much a harassed, overworked employee, than a bumbling idiot.

From there on, it’s difficult to sympathise with him, because he goes on to commit such ludicrous blunders and hijinks that anyone thinking clearly, much less his shrewd and no-nonsense boss (Alan Rickman), would find it hard to tolerate him.

Which is a pity, since Colin Firth puts in so much effort to play Harry Deane as an earnest, misguided, but well-intentioned guy that still deserves to be liked. It may not be the fault of the writing; after all, the Coen brothers have pulled off ridiculous characters in the past (see Burn After Reading and Brad Pitt’s even more airheaded role in it). It may just be that the former King George V is too dignified to pull off characters that are more suited to Rowan Atkinson’s expertise in being Mr. Bean.

And though there are scenes that shine in their humorous juxtaposition, the movie is bogged down with several horrible characterisations — which includes Cameron Diaz’s terrible Texan accent, and some Japanese businessmen stereotypes so cringeworthy that I wondered while watching if the filmmakers were fending off racism lawsuits.

The last five minutes of the film pulls a huge twist, and makes it clear why everyone behaved as they did (though in Harry Deane’s case, I’m not entirely convinced that it was all deliberate). But it didn’t negate the fact that for the first 85 minutes of it, I had to suffer through Colin Firth playing a bumbling idiot.

The “gambit” in the movie title seems more to be whether Colin Firth can be convincing in a stupid role. Unlike the heist, it didn’t pay off.

Where to watch Gambit in the U.S.

Streaming services: Gambit is not on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or any other streaming services.

Rent/Buy: Get it on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Microsoft, FandangoNOW, Redbox

Where to watch Gambit in Singapore

Streaming services: Gambit is on Catchplay. It’s not on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or any other local streaming services.

Rent/Buy: Get it on Catchplay

Where to watch Gambit in other countries

Not in the U.S. or in Singapore? Here’s a handy guide on how to find Gambit (or any other specific movie) and watch it online legally, wherever you are.

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