Casino Jack

One of the better documentary films to come out in 2010 was “Casino Jack and The United States of Money”.  The movie documented the rise and fall of disgraced super lobbyist Jack Abramoff. 2011 brings us “Casino Jack” the fictionalized tale of the rise and fall of super lobbyist Jack Abramoff played by Kevin Spacey.

The movie is largely one long flashback as Abramoff tell his tale to his new cellmates.  He explains to them what a “super lobbyist” does and goes on to tell how easily he bought off members of the Bush Administration and how he scammed large amounts of money from Native American Indians who were looking to open a casino.

There is a sad note to this movie as it was the last movie from director George Hickenlooper who is known for directing such movies as “Factory Girl” and “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse”.  He was scheduled to attend a screening of “Casino Jack” at the 25th Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, but passed away before he could.  Most in attendance thought the film was just average to maybe a bit more so. 

Part of the problem with the movie is that Kevin Spacey portrays Abramoff as a character who deserves our sympathy.  He often is rattling off different movie lines to people and is pretty likable despite the crimes he is committing.  Barry Pepper, in another great performance to go along with the one that can currently be seen in “True Grit”, is the one who comes off as the scumbag with his portrayal of Abramoff’s partner, Michael Scanlon. 

Hickenlooper gives us some pretty interesting camera angles throughout the movie.  It looks fancy, but feels unnecessary for this story to be told.  He also overuses the music provided by Jonathan Goldsmith.  Every scene does NOT need a dramatic score to go along with it. 

The collective group of actors is one of the saving graces of the movie.  Spacey has already garnered some award nominations for his performance.  Other talent of note is Kelly Preston who plays Abramoff’s wife, Pam and a real fun performance from Jon Lovitz playing Adam Kidan. 

Most people did not see the documentary so no one will have a real base of comparison, but if you are interested in the real story of Abramoff it is worth seeing.  If you are someone who has felt the need to picket in front of Jack Abramoff’s prison holding a sign that reads, “Free Jack” then this could be the movie for you.