Casino Jack is the last film from late director George Hickenlooper, who died on October 30, 2010. Most well known for his documentary Hearts of Darkness, chronicling the nightmare of a movie shoot for Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Hickenlooper was also responsible for films like Factory Girl and Mayor of the Sunset Strip. With Casino Jack, Hickenlooper takes a look at Jack Abramoff, the famed US lobbyist who was charged with defrauding American Indian tribes, corrupting public officials, tax evasion, conspiracy and other things.
For those unfamiliar with Jack Abramoff and his shenanigans, the film tries to make it pretty easy and clear, by outlining all the characters and explicitly displaying who Abramoff was and what he did. If you’re not up to speed on politics, or American politics, you may be a bit lost at times, and you may not get as much out of the film as you otherwise could, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable.
Being a Canadian, and mostly unfamiliar with American politics and the actions of Jack Abramoff, I did find myself lost or confused at times, but Hickenlooper tries his best not to complicate things too much. That being said, those who are familiar with the Abramoff situation will get more out of the film.
While a film about politics and lobbyists could quickly turn into a chance to catch up on some sleep, Hickenlooper’s Casino Jack is anything but dull and it’s the furthest thing away from boring. Much of the film’s success is due to the absolutely brilliant performances all around. Kevin Spacey is downright phenomenal in the role and it is one of his best performances in years. Supporting him are Barry Pepper, Jon Lovitz and Kelly Preston. Everyone is working their A-game here and all the performances are top notch.
Click here to read the rest of our Casino Jack theatrical review.
For a really solid film it’s a shame that the special features quite frankly suck. Here’s what we get.
- Casino Jack – A Director’s Photo Diary
- Gag Reel
- Deleted Scenes
Like I said, pathetic. Nothing worth your time and it will only leave you wishing there was more effort put into the special features. Luckily, the audio and video are up to our usual expectations. Don’t expect groundbreaking things from the audio since this is a political comedy but despite that, it’s still very strong on all fronts. The lively score blends in perfectly and hits all the right notes. Dialogue is sharp and clear and never muddled out while ambients are effective, creating appropriate atmosphere. Visually the film is also quite good. Boasting exceptional clarity and consistently fine detail. The picture carries a wonderful sharpness to it and gives off accurate and natural colours.
Overall I was pretty pleased with Casino Jack. Those who are more well versed in U.S. politics may appreciate it a bit better but it’s still a pretty well made film with strong performances from just about everyone. It’s often entertaining and moves at a quick pace, rarely allowing for a moment of dullness. The special features are garbage but the film looks and sounds like it should and if you enjoyed the film in theatres, I’d say give it a purchase.
Great and enjoyable performances make Casino Jack often funny and rarely dull or boring.