Once Upon A Time: My Review Of The Card Counter

No Mercy Monday February 1

After giving us an ode to the amateur poker players last time, Isabelle Mercier now goes in the other direction. She has no mercy for the recently released movie The Card Counter. Check her review.

How about talking about something else than poker for this new story? How about a movie that is about poker?! Okay, okay, we stay within the theme of these blog posts, and the truth is, I could have fun being a movie critic, a job I could see myself doing!

Between watching the Squid Games phenomenon series or the sci-fi classic Dune, I watched a movie with a title that, as a blackjack lover, immediately struck me: The Card Counter, by Paul Schrader.

I will perhaps come back in future posts on the various adaptations to the cinema and elsewhere of the world of poker and more generally of gambling, but today, I want to focus on this newly released film.

A Poker Pro Review Of The Card Counter

Spoiler alert: don’t read on if you want to watch the movie without reading reviews, that’s what I do personally, so I prefer to warn.

Now that the usual precautions have been taken, I can tell you my feelings about this film, a feeling that I will sum up in one word: Junk!

Sorry for those who are waiting for a modern-day Rounders, but this is not the feature film that should satisfy their desire. We’ll have to wait, the gem in which Matt Damon and Edward Norton are in has not been passed by far.

Positive Aspects

In the rather positive arguments column, I would put the fact that the film reminded me of the time in my life when I had no fixed address and literally lived in hotel-casinos.

We find this atmosphere in The Card Counter, the professional meetings that take place at the casino bar amid the deafening noise of slot machines. I will also put in the same column the acting of the main actor Oscar Isaac, very believable in his role. Still, other than that, you can’t say that this film will stay in my memory for long.

Oscar Isaac

Negative Notes

The lengths are legion, we would have liked a tighter edit, just to breathe a little dynamism into the whole work. As for the scenario, there are too big disappointments.

I would even say that there is deception on the merchandise. The title and the first third of the film sell us the story of William Tell, a BlackJack card counter who is also very good at poker when the reality is quite different.

Without revealing too much for those who would still like to see it, let’s say that the scenario goes in another direction, poles apart from the universe promised by the title.

It’s very unpleasant when the producers of a film do that, they do everything to make it look like the film is going to deal with this subject and after 30 minutes, the initial premise is put away and we find ourselves in a completely different film, in an altered atmosphere.

Spoiler Alert: Plot Twist

A climate of torture in a Guantanamo Bay prison, with scenes of such violence that I had to close my eyes for a few minutes to prevent a stomachache.

Drop point of the film; The actor lets himself be blinded out from a final table with 3 players remaining in a WSOP Circuit tournament to go and commit a murder. Really? Bitterness and disappointment.

And finally, the No-Limit Hold’em poker scenes in The Card Counter are very poorly filmed. Almost as if the director only used poker as a pretext, a sulfurous backdrop on which he was going to be able to paint the real story that he wanted to film.

You see the start of a hand, cool. Oh no, the director leaves the action on the mat to focus on his characters and you see nothing more of that pot.

The Card Counter

Final Thoughts

The poker-loving spectator, on the other hand, is hungry for more, having nothing to eat but the cartoonish spectacle of an American player and his rail that would make Phil Hellmuth look like a boy with a lot of restraint at the table.

In short, it’s a shame, I would have liked to see a movie about poker or gambling that was successful … failed. In the meantime, I will go back to check again Rounders. It’s a bit dated but… That’s Poker!

Meet me at the tables on CoinPoker to practice your skills and enjoy the action. Open yourself a CoinPoker account today.

Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier

WPT Winner & OFC “Progressive” World Champion

Author: Ian Douglas