Review: Gambit


Colin Firth is an art curator and Cameron Diaz as a Texas rodeo queen, teaming up to con his abusive boss (Alan Rickman) into buying a fake Monet painting. Written by the Coen brothers, adapting Michael Caine’s 1966 comedy crime caper.

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With its eccentric names (Shahbandar), double entendres and slap(stick) and tickle, it’s easy to see what drew the Coen boys to remaking Ronald Neame’s The Pink Panther-meets-The Thomas Crown Affair tale. But while the opening Fritz Freleng-inspired animated credits scream 1960s, this Trans-Atlantic update’s sensibilities are far more in line with the noughties’ Duplicity or The Matador.

Although Rickman deliciously hams it up as Gambit‘s repulsive billionaire, Firth is hardly stretched in the hapless Englishman role and Diaz is all Daisy Dukes and drawl. Tom Courtenay’s voiceover is also something of a distraction, an extra level of abstraction the film could have done without.

Director Hoffman keeps the action zipping along, while also throwing in some nice match shots and choreographed set pieces (one sequence involving multiple rooms at the Savoy Hotel is a true highlight).

Slighter and fluffier than the original, this Gambit does allow the Coens to showcase their ability to find just the right level of farce, tasteful nudity and general shenanigans for the film to not outstay its welcome, while admittedly not lingering long in the memory.