Two for the Money

A blustery sports-betting impresario (who but Al Pacino?) recruits a young ex-quarterback (Matthew McConaughey) as his star handicapper and surrogate son and makes a monster out of him. “You’re selling the world’s rarest commodity,” Pacino exhorts. “You’re selling certainty in an uncertain world.” You get the idea: Stakes will be raised, gambles played, lessons learned. For all its deficiencies of structure and pacing, the movie is convincingly attuned to its milieu, and in some ways clever. McConaughey’s lack of range, for example, becomes a plot point. The most noteworthy performance comes from Rene Russo—as Pacino’s wised-up, nobly suffering wife, by her own description a former junkie and by the script’s description not much of anything else—who should be commended for brooking such nearly misogynist material with aplomb, or maybe interrogated about why she would even dignify this stuff to begin with. Deal-breaker? Well, take your chances.

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