Michael Hoffman's Gambit is a loose remake of the 1966 heist comedy (of the same title), which tells the tale of a clever criminal who attempts to steal a priceless antique from a Middle Eastern millionaire. The cast is remarkably promising, starring Colin Firth, Alan Rickman and Cameron Diaz, but unfortunately the film fell a little short of my expectations.
This contemporary version of the sixties hit introduces Harry Deane (Firth), a struggling art curator who is desperate to con his arrogant boss (Rickman) into buying a fake imitation of one of Monet's masterpieces. In order to do this, Mr Deane must enlist the help of Texan rodeo queen, PJ Puznowski (Diaz), which predictably leads to a few hiccups in the supposedly flawless plan.
I was confused from the moment the film started, as I stared blankly at the strange animated credit sequence, which would have felt more comfortable at a screening of the Pink Panther; sadly, it didn't get any better. The opening scenes were awfully long-winded, which allowed me to partially lose interest within the first thirty minutes; however, I did manage to remain focused enough to witness the embarrassing and irritating use of the 'dream' technique, in which I was forced to watch around ten minutes of imaginary plot, before realising that it was completely irrelevant. In addition to this, I was also baffled by the stream of awkward narration which continues throughout the film, and is largely reminiscent of Firth's 2005 blockbuster, Nanny McPhee! So far, so disappointing...
After a shaky start I pinned my hopes on Rickman to save my sanity, and thankfully, he did; Rickman's character, Lord Lionel Shabandar, is a brilliant nightmare. He's ruthless, heartless, and incessantly rude, over-shadowing all of the other characters completely; at least until a hilarious moment, involving the loss of Harry Deane's trousers, shifts the limelight back to Firth. As for Diaz, her role is incredibly drab and uninspiring, apart from a sudden burst of gumption in the final scenes.
It feels blasphemous to say so, considering that this film stars two of my favourite actors, but Gambit really is a bit of a shambles; the humour is a mix between slap-stick and innuendo, both of which are a little lack-luster, and the characters are remarkably under-developed. All in all, I wouldn't recommend marking this film with a 'must-see' sticker, unless you're hankering after a baffling and juvenile attempt to revive a sixties heist comedy?