A skilled yet somewhat clumsy London art expert enlists the help of a Texan cowgirl and a forger to scam his filthy rich boss. And that’s pretty much it in this ridiculously predictable comedy.
The art curator, Harry Deane (Firth) cannot stand his employer Lionel (Rickman), and who can blame him? Lionel is an arrogant, self-obsessed billionaire that fails to appreciate Harry in any way possible, making us instantly feel for the con-artist. Harry hires the Major (Courtenay), and carefree Texan, PJ (Diaz) to play a part in his elaborate scheme to trick Lionel into buying a fake Monet. This ultimately allows Harry to take one of Lionel’s real Monet’s and bag himself a cool £11 million in a deal with some amusing Japanese men.
The prominent lion on the movie posters is not so prominent in Gambit, as it literally appears for around 5 minutes before it’s off again. The same could be said about the humour throughout the film. Innuendoes here and there about “the major” and pretentious accents provide a few chuckles, and then the film is back focussing on its simplistic plot. It was hard to tell if PJ was of any romantic interest to Harry, or if she was just part of his deal, yet again not a lot came out of it. A funny scene showing Harry clinging onto the Savoy’s window ledges without his trousers is as big as it gets.
Director Michael Hoffman did a good job in getting the likes of Firth, Diaz and Rickman to star in the remake; however both the characters and the plot had no depth at all. At the very beginning of Gambit, we are provided with a plan of what’s going to happen. A recipe for disaster? Completely. The film pretty much followed that plan throughout, resulting in a drab and weary viewing experience. A couple of half-hearted twists featured towards to end, yet the film was so dull that you came to expect it.
I believe you should watch Gambit as a blank canvas. That way, there will be no big expectations and it shouldn’t let you down – too much. I really didn’t see the need to remake the 1966 film featuring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. Hoffman’s remake was forgettable to say the least. As always, Colin Firth delivers a solid performance, however it’s a shame to say that he alone cannot lift this happy-go-lucky film.