Poker themes have become a lot more prevalent in Hollywood films over the years, especially since a significant surge in the game’s popularity over the last ten years or so. Some have done very well at the Box Office, while others became derisable bombs. The first week of December will deliver two new films in that genre, Gutshot Straight and Poker Night.
Gutshot Straight is slated to hit theatres on December 2nd, and while it’s hard to condemn a movie I have not personally experienced, movie critics who have had that (dis)pleasure aren’t authoring the best reviews. Despite a high-caliber cast that includes Steven Seagal, Vinnie Jones, George Eads and Tia Carrere, the plot simply doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
A struggling gambler and dead-beat dad (Eads) owes money to an MMA trainer (Jones) and mob boss (Seagal). Unfortunately, according to critics, Jones and Seagal are the only interesting characters in the film, but they only play minor, stereotypical roles.
For all intents and purposes, Gutshot Straight looks to be another flop in the poker movie genre, much like last year’s anticipated, but ultimately disappointing, Runner, Runner. However, thus far, Gutshot Straight has been given a lower rating of 4 out of 10 stars by IMDB, whereas Runner, Runner finished with a slightly more respectable 5.6.
Now this poker movie looks a bit more promising thanks to a cryptic plot that seems to mirror blockbuster suspense titles like 12 Monkeys (1995) and the original Saw movie (2004). Featuring an all-star cast that includes Beau Mirchoff, Ron Perlman and Giancarlo Esposito among others, Poker Night is set to hit the big screen on Friday, December 5th, and has already received 8 out of 10 stars from IMDB.
A group of hard core detectives in Warsaw, Indiana gather round the table for their regular poker night. Rookie Detective Stan Jeter (Mirchoff) joins the group, where he listens to gruesome tales of the job. Before long, Jeter finds himself the victim of a brutal psychopath, but he’s not alone. He and a young girl are held captive in the perpetrator’s basement where Jeter must piece together the stories he heard at poker night to save both their lives.
The synopsis on IMDB says, “Like Seven and Usual Suspects, Poker Night combines thrills and twists and turns that will leave you guessing till the very end.” It’s high rating is comparable to blockbuster poker movies like High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003), Maverick (1994) and Rounders (1998).
More Poker Movies to Come
Word around the water cooler is that a few other poker themed movies are in the works. One is said to be based on the book Molly’s Game, authored by Molly Bloom, keeper of one of the most exclusive, high-stakes, underground poker games in Hollywood, California. Another is rumored to be based on the life of controversial poker pro Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow, who published an auto-biography, ‘Check-Raising the Devil’, in 2012. Last but not least, speculations of a sequel to Rounders continue to circulate. However, those unsubstantiated rumors have been going around since 2010, so don’t get your hopes up.