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Released 23 November 2012
Director Michael Hoffman

Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman, Tom Courtenay, Stanley Tucci
Writer(s) Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Mike Lobell, Rob Paris, Adam Ripp
Origin United States
Running Time 90 minutes
Genre Comedy, crime
Rating TBC

Less than artful remake.

In film well-meaning premises often go awry, casts that should work wonderfully sometimes don’t and elements that in theory might mesh together for an enjoyable romp in the finished product just don’t seem cohesive. As is the case with Michael Hoffman’s remake of the more enjoyable sixties art heist caper, Gambit. The original starring Michael Caine and Shirley McLaine could’ve found a cast worthy enough to pass the Gambit torch to in Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman, three actors whose combined comedic experience is enough to peak anyone’s interest, but, alas, in the relay race of remakes in Hoffman’s modern spin, sporting metaphor forgiven, the baton is definitely dropped.

Gambit’s animated opening, trademark of many a good flick from late eighties to early nineties (think Mannequin, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead and many more) is commensurately more enjoyable than the film as a whole and promises far more farcical potential than is fulfilled in its eighty-nine minute stretch. From there on in, there’s a certain fun to the proceedings, an aspiration to reach other heist film favourite A Fish Called Wanda level zaniness, but Gambit never transcends from likable buffoonery to unbeatable belly laughs, from slight amusement to all out anarchy, and resultantly it burdens an audience with a film lazily unwilling to exceed its easy comedy roots.

Long suffering art appraiser Harry Dean (Colin Firth) sees an opportunity to upstage and defraud his frightful boss Lionel Shahbander (Alan Rickman) and enlists Rodeo Queen PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz) in an unlikely con to convince him that the long lost Monet painting "Haystacks Dusk" hangs in her Texan trailer park abode, above abusive reality TV loving, tobacco chewing grandmother Cloris Leachman.

Written by The Brothers Coen, filmmakers normally so artful in their imitative but innovative genre splicing output, this heist movie remains light fair, a forgery that despite being well crafted could never be mistaken for the real thing.

- Cormac O’Brien