Casino Jack lays waste to the true-life story of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, himself currently serving a six year prison stretch. Kevin Spacey gives his usual attention grabbing perf as Abramoff, a guy who “works out every day.” (There’s also a documentary by Alex Gibney called Casino Jack and the United States of Money that makes your head spin with the tabloid truth of Abramoff’s deeds. You realize Casino Jack leaves out the whole Ralph Reed subplot. That doc will be playing at 14 Pews later in March.)
Sadly, Casino Jack’s director George Hickenlooper died of natural causes during last month’s Denver Film Festival where his film was playing, no less during the week of his brother Jack Hickenlooper, being elected governor of Colorado.
Abramoff presided over a three-ring circus of comic mob slayings, corporate shenanigans in Malaysia and casino cruise subterfuge, all in the name of lobbying Congress on behalf of his clients. Spacey makes the role his own, having his character make constant reference to movies and segueing into “great film acting scenes” like the Pacino meltdown in And Justice For All. This is appropriate as Abramoff was in reality a one-time movie producer whose gift to the world was the Dolph Lundgren starrer Red Scorpion. Lobbying makes for unusual playmates as Abramoff fronts policy for politicians like Tom DeLay. Casino Jack uses satire to good effect, even going overboard in the tone of the movie without losing the audience. Casino Jack opens exclusively at the Edwards Marq*e this Friday.
– Michael Bergeron