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High on talent, but a bit short on laughs
on 5 March 2013
Gambit is a remake of an old Michael Caine film, where an art dealer (Firth) attempts to con his unbearable boss (Rickman) by enlisting the help of a beautiful, but slightly naïve, American cowgirl (Diaz). With those three names on the cast list, you know it's going to be good, especially when it's written by the - critically-acclaimed - Coen brothers. However, you may be wrong.
And it's not the fault of the actors. To put it simply, they're given very little to work with, script-wise. Cameron Diaz does what she does best, i.e. she's cute, a bit dippy, but thoroughly endearing nonetheless. Alan Rickman is...well, Alan Rickman - he's devious, cold-hearted and charming. Still, so far, so good, but then we come to Colin Firth - an actor who's proved his excellent credentials in numerous films. However, he's the protagonist here - attempting to basically rip-off his boss by foul means. Therefore, for us to feel sympathy towards him, we need to see him as more of a good-guy. Yet, he does very little to warm the audience towards him. He's spineless, a bit too weedy and, just because his boss isn't very nice, thinks he can take him for all he's worth. He doesn't even give us that many laughs (a few, but certainly not many). Unfortunately for him, Rickman steals the show and - despite obviously being the baddie - seems to charm the audience more than Firth can.
I know Gambit is supposed to be an addition to the long line of British `farce' films, but it does tend to rely a little too much on low-brow humour, rather than utilising the cast's natural talent. Also, because it's rated 12A, it can never really descend into the `gross-out' territory and do anything too risky.
Unfortunately, what you're left with is a very capable cast, being reduced to simply one of a number of stereotypes (the English are VERY English, Cameron Diaz is VERY Texan and the Japanese are VERY Japanese).
It's not a bad film. I quite enjoyed it, plus it doesn't drag itself out for too long. It's charming enough in its own way, only with the heavyweight names that go with it, it could have been so much more than just an excuse to watch Cameron Diaz in hotpants.