When people talk about how great the ’70s were for character-driven stories, Karel Reisz’s The Gambler should be, but hardly ever is, included in that conversation. Screenwriter James Toback’s script was a deeply personal depiction of his own gambling addiction, and the leather-tough James Caan disappeared into the atypical role of a guy who could easily be pushed around. Forty years later Mark Wahlberg subverts his own tough guy image in director Rupert Wyatt‘s dense, subversive and surprisingly meta remake of Reisz’s original picture. This is a rare remake that stands on its own two feet, which is immediately established at the start of the film. There’s a reason why even the characters’ names have been altered — Axel Freed (James Caan) is now Jim Bennett (Mark Wahlberg). The original and this remake are almost entirely different beasts, despite some familiarity. Although a modern retelling is typically expected to be slicker and safer than its original source, this story remains faithful to its prick of a protagonist. Bennett is, by all means, an unlikable person. Not only because he has a serious gambling problem, but because he’s a character without a filter, someone who thinks he’s telling the truth but who, more often than not, is really spouting loads of bullshit.