Film: Casino Jack

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s success in shocking the country with his greed and lack of scruples may be a story fit for the big screen, but George Hickenlooper’s film could have scratched below the surface a little deeper.

With lofty plans for building a Hebrew school for his children to attend, the insatiable Abramoff (Kevin Spacey) takes all measures to avoid a life that mimics the masses. According to him, “mediocrity is where most people live,” and that’s just not good enough.

Unfortunately for those involved, the quick-tongued spinmaster’s measures involve having his hand in corrupt activities, which includes scheming American Indian tribes out of millions of dollars. Unfortunately, we weren’t really let into the inner chambers of Abramoff’s character to see whether or not his decisions weighed on him.

The toll the rise and fall of power can take on a person is more apparent in Abramoff’s partner-in-crime, Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper). Scanlon is just as eager as Abramoff to sucker people out of money and squander it as quickly as he can bring it in, but getting reckless with the wrong girl’s heart is a mistake that leads to torrential tears in a bathroom stall.

Adam Kidan (Jon Lovitz), the front man for Abramoff’s casino cruise ship venture, and a person with some seedy connections, also plays a big role in Abramoff’s fate. Lovitz’s portrayal of mafia-tied Kidan was fun to watch. With his grating, wheezy-cough, Lovitz is just as irritating as his characters were on SNL.

Spacey’s performance was convincing in this tale of crime, indulgence and back-stabbing, but there were too many schemes and politicians of which to keep track. Had the film delved deeper into Abramoff’s psyche, letting the audience in on his emotions, it may have felt more like a box office drama and less like a documentary.

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