Combustible Celluloid Review - Poker Face (2022), Russell Crowe, Stephen M. Coates, Russell Crowe, Russell Crowe, Liam Hemsworth, RZA, Aden Young, Steve Bastoni, Daniel MacPherson, Brooke Satchwell, Paul Tassone, Matt Nable, Benedict Hardie, Molly Grace, Elsa Pataky, Jack Thompson, Jacqueline McKenzie, Lynn Gilmartin, Addam Bramich, Lucy Lock
Combustible Celluloid
 
Stream it:
Amazon
Download at i-tunes iTunes
With: Russell Crowe, Liam Hemsworth, RZA, Aden Young, Steve Bastoni, Daniel MacPherson, Brooke Satchwell, Paul Tassone, Matt Nable, Benedict Hardie, Molly Grace, Elsa Pataky, Jack Thompson, Jacqueline McKenzie, Lynn Gilmartin, Addam Bramich, Lucy Lock
Written by: Russell Crowe, Stephen M. Coates
Directed by: Russell Crowe
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 95
Date: 11/18/2022
IMDB

Poker Face (2022)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hit the Deck

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

While Russell Crowe's Poker Face consists of many disparate parts that don't always come together effectively, there's something about the characters' group friendships that makes it compelling anyway.

Jake Foley (Russell Crowe) is a professional poker player who amassed a fortune building an online poker game in the early days of the internet, as well as even more lucrative security software. Now he is dying of pancreatic cancer. He goes to a shaman for help and comes away with a special serum, which in small doses makes its user tell the truth, and in larger doses, is a lethal poison.

As a last hurrah, he decides to invite his four oldest friends — Drew (RZA), Mike (Liam Hemsworth), Alex (Aden Young), and Paul (Steve Bastoni) — for a high-stakes poker game. Each of them has a secret or a problem that needs to be aired, and the truth serum gets things going. But the evening is interrupted by another face from the past, who, with two armed henchmen, has come to rob Jake of his priceless works of art.

Crowe's second feature directing effort, following The Water Diviner (2015), Poker Face indeed gets a bit busy in the middle as it tries to smash together all its various components. One feels as if some of them, such as the security software, or the fact that (for some reason) Jake's lawyer Sam is also involved in the poker game, could have been cut out completely with nothing lost. But while the movie lacks streamlining, its single location, a beautiful, extravagant compound, tends to keep things on an even keel.

What works well in the movie is the sense that these friends actually have known each other their entire lives, and the way the relate to each other has a kind of emotional shorthand that feels right. Crowe sets the tone with one of his more understated performances, caring but guarded, and the others clue into his efforts perfectly. (His scenes with Jake's teen daughter, played by Molly Grace, are touching as well.)

Indeed, a better movie might have been made simply focusing on the men and their poker game; and certainly a movie about poker could have shown more of the game itself. But for all its flaws, there's enough good stuff in Poker Face to make it worth dealing us in.

CD Universe
Hulu
TASCHEN
Movies Unlimtied
300x250