Cold Deck opens with a jazzy soundtrack and a warmly-lit montage of poker tables being played. The film zooms in on one particular table, where the players engage in emasculating ball-busting, each jab met with the same uproarious laughter.
One player, Bobby (Stefano Gallo), loses out to the clubs owner, Chips (Paul Sorvino), who takes sympathy on him and lends him some cash.
Bobby works in a factory, but his conversations are all on gambling. It is his lifestyle. Strapped for cash, barely able to pay for food, he still buys a lottery ticket. His worse-for-wear mother bemoans what tragedies will befall him if he continues gambling. It is the conventional addict archetype.
In spite of the conventionality of his character, Gallo (also the film’s co-writer) plays it well. There isn’t incredible depth to his addict character, but he carries the film through to the end.
Turk (Robert Knepper), our antagonist for the proceedings, is equally conventional. He is cold and questionable, and is prone to take matters into his own, violent hands. He may be sinister, but his type has been overdone. In fact, his antics are downright comical given the nature of the plot.
At times, Bobby is a poker savant, lining up the odds and reading players like a World Poker Tournament champ. Other times, he is a flat out loser, betting on hopeless hands. It is a nagging inconsistency that serves only to drive the narrative forward.
Paul Sorvino is the one who steals the show. He has a relaxed naturalism in every scene that he is in.
Overall, the film wants to be Casino meets Rounders, but it never reaches up to either of those films’ high standards. It has its fun moments, but its blending of poker thriller and gangster drama don’t quite meet in the middle. And, in the end, it doesn’t bring anything astoundingly new to the mix.
If you want to watch Cold Deck, it is currently available to rent or buy on Amazon Instant Video here.
As always, thanks for reading!
Have you seen Cold Deck? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!