a critiQal film review Two for the Money (2005)

  • DVD

Plot: After a knee injury leaves him sidelined in football, Brandon (McConaughey) uses his knowledge of the game to predict game scores for a 900 number. Brandon's accuracy attracts the attention of big-time gambling promoter Walter (Pacino), who decides to take Brandon under his wing.

619 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 5s)
  • ...if not for the end, it would be worth a rental - despite some uninspiring performances.

After seeing The Recruit (2003) a short while ago, I knew Al Pacino hadn’t lost his touch over the years. So, when I heard Two For The Money was another Al Pacino-driven film, I knew I was going to have to check it out when it hit DVD.

But, pairing him with Matthew McConaughey? Didn’t sound really promising. Sure, McConaughey did do a good job recently in Reign of Fire (2002) and as the new Dirk Pitt in Sahara (2005), but would he be able to make another good film, or would he fall back to his usual uninspired self (which we’ve seen in films like How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days, Contact and Edtv)? That was the real question that weighed heavily on my mind. I finally decided to brave my fears, sit down, and find out if Two For The Money was worth anything at all.

Al Pacino turns in a performance in Two For The Money that’s nothing to write home about. It’s definitely not one of his best. His character doesn’t give him as much chance to shine as he usually gets – and because of it, he doesn’t really sink his teeth into this character and make it his own. Instead, he seems to almost drift through the film, relying mostly on his acting history to keep the viewer interested, which doesn’t require any real effort from him. True, his acting history and his knowledge of the business helps him drift through without too many ripples for the viewer, but it’s definitely not up to what the viewer expects from this man.

Because of Pacino’s lackluster effort, he really gives his co-stars a chance to shine in Two For The Money. Unfortunately, old fave Rene Russo returns to film in a performance that tends to lean toward the cardboard rather than anything real inspiring.

Matthew McConaughey is able to keep the viewer interested if he’s got a decent plot behind him, but if the plot starts to falter, he can’t hold onto the viewer. His acting is steady, but not very interesting without anything to back it up. Thankfully, the plot manages to stay interesting for most of the film, so the viewer shouldn’t have any real problems staying tuned.

Two For The Money starts off well. As the viewer starts getting into the film, the film does a good job of showcasing the euphoric atmosphere of the film, as McConaughey’s character keeps predicting winners, and Pacino takes an interest in him. This is the film’s highest point, and is easily the most interesting part of the film.

The longer McConaughey and Pacino continue working together, however, the more rifts appear – both in the film and in the plot. By the time the viewer gets to the mid-point of the film, the downfall has begun – and it doesn’t get any better from there. Two For The Money, sadly, ends on a rather confusing morality lesson that seems to come out of left field. It’s even more disappointing since the film starts off so well.

With a cast containing the likes of Al Pacino and Rene Russo (and Matthew McConaughey, I suppose), it seems like Two For The Money has a lot going for it right from the start. Unfortunately, rather uninspiring performances by the entire cast (including Pacino) leave the plot to pull the film through. Thankfully, the plot is able to keep the viewer interested through most of the film, but it’s last gasp occurs before the movie’s end – leaving the viewer with nothing.

Without the ending, it’s worth a rental. As is, however, Two For The Money is better suited to a Sunday afternoon on the couch once it hits cable.

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