Monday, September 12, 2005

The Card Player (2004)

This film was screwed from the start. Basing a movie around a serial killer with a video-poker obsession is ridiculous, and it gets even more ridiculous in execution. Director Dario Argento has dutifully lined up many of his hallmark obsessions here. (Hero with dark secret in past? Check. Sadistic gloved killer with a yen for pretty girls? Check. Forced romantic subplot? Check. Nonsensical climax complete with raving-nutzoid showboating by culprit? Check.) Yet he failed to realize that the cat-and-mouse games between the cop and the killer would be somewhat dampened by the computer-game hijinks. So instead of paint-stripping tension, what we are left with is befuddlement that anyone would consider crafting a thriller wherein a good third of the action is a bunch of people huddled around a computer playing online poker. The premise fails to transcend its obvious idiocy, and it's actually made worse by the ho-hum direction from the usually stylish Argento. It's a faceless, impersonal film, and the brutal murder scenes that are Argento's stock in trade are nowhere to be seen -- all the violence is post-mortem. Between this and his next film, which is maybe the worst idea ever, I'm finally giving up on Dario. It was fun while it lasted.

Grade: D


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