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DVD Review

DVD cover

Casino Jack


Starring: Kevin Spacey, Barry Pepper, Rachelle Lefevre, Kelly Preston and Jon Lovitz
Signature Entertainment
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 16 July 2012

Jack Abramoff is a highly successful and well paid lobbyist in Washington. He has much, but he wants more. Every dream that Avarice can imagine is Jack's. On the surface he spends his time helping native Indian tribes and bringing influence in Washington, in reality he is stealing from those tribes to pay for his own grandiose schemes and bribing politicians. When Jack and his associate, Michael Scanlon, decide to go into the casino business they get Adam Kidan, a small time shyster with mob connections to front the operation. Things quickly get out of hand, ending in murder...

Casino Jack (2010 - 1 hr, 43 min, 37 sec) is a dark comedy based on a true story. The film is directed by George Hickenlooper from a Norman Snider script. The film won an award for direction and Kevin Spacey was nominated for a golden globe.

Although based on a true story, the film has taken liberties with the characters to increase the entertainment value, there is a level of acute absurdity in both the situation and characterisations which I presume was lacking from mundane reality. Abramoff (Kevin Spacey) starts the film in jail, trying to understand what it is he has done wrong; it’s not that the film takes an apologist stance on what the real character did, but the film character has a real blank space when it comes to his own wrongdoings. He genuinely feels that he is a good man who will use the money he has stolen for good causes, missing out the section on having to steal the money in the first place.

Abramoff is portrayed as a wise cracking character, obsessed with film; he spends half his time quoting lines, with the occasional bouts of manic lunacy. It is certainly a return to form for Spacey not seen since Seven (1995), L.A. Confidential (1997), and The Usual Suspects (1995). The film contains a number of brilliant turns by Spacey, including the unforgettable scene where, just prior to his arrest, Abramoff is frenetically trying to pitch an idea for a new film, which will be like The Ten Commandments, but with Russell Crowe.

Spacey is ably supported by the other main characters, especially Barry Pepper, who plays his partner Michael Scanlon, who is an irritating man with a lack of depth and foresight, his indiscretions finally bring an end to the pair’s schemes. Jon Lovitz plays the morally bankrupt and very funny Adam Kidan. Each of the actors gets their moments in a well-balanced and witty script.

There is not much in the way of extras on the DVD, you get some deleted scenes (9 min) and a blooper reel (8 min, 25 sec). The film is presented with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound audio track.


Charles Packer

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