film reel image

film reel image

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Poker Face 2022 * * Stars


"I'm a gambler". Yeah you are and an affluent one at that. Look at your mansion and your fancy cars and your unchaining wine collection and your fitments. Elon Musk called and well, he wants it all back. 

Anyway, Russell Crowe has always been one of my favorite actors but as a director he seems lost with 2022's Poker Face. Feverishly edited, modish, and ultramodern a great flick doesn't always make. I mean you have to set a tone, pick a genre, and/or at least give the audience member a formidable thesis for what's on screen. Crowe, well he shoots Poker Face thinking in cuts, saturated hues, and not much else. He just doesn't know how to play his action cards here (pun intended).

As a film about a wealthy dude who is dying and decides to host a high-stakes poker fest with his childhood buddies, Poker Face stars Crowe, Elsa Pataky, and a weathered Liam Hemsworth. It runs 94 minutes while unintentionally butchering the almighty, cinematic form. Yeah Poker Face is slick and looks like a million bucks (that was probably the budget times 10) but it also feels unfinished and patchy, like the writers (and Russell himself) probably ran out of wiggle room. 

So OK, is Poker Face a thriller? I guess if you count the last half hour. Is Poker Face Molly's Game for the rich and shameless? Maybe in the first half hour. Is Poker Face a hard-hitting drama? It hangs in that category by a string. And is Poker Face a home invasion pic? Towards the end but for why and what purpose we don't fully know. Reverting back to the styling-s of the first paragraph, a few well-lit scenes, some techy conflict, and some claustrophobic acting a great flick doesn't always make. "Blind stud". 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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