The cast is strong and deep: Sylvester Stallone, Jamie Foxx, Gabriel Byrne, Melanie Griffith and Thandie Newton among others.
The story is solid: A young "mechanic" and his hustler partners aim to take down the biggest card shark (and cheat) in the game.
And I had never heard of it.
Is that possible? If it's a movie, I've at least heard of it. And this one is right in my wheelhouse... gambling and grifters. But it wasn't until I forced Lady Luck to watch David Mamet's Spartan (she didn't care for it... I'm a fan), until I actually saw a trailer for this movie.
It's called Shade.
If you've seen a lot of con movies, you'll be pretty familiar with the rhythm of this movie. What I mean is that the twist and turns aren't as cleverly hidden as they perhaps could be. In fact, some of the "cons" seem lifted from classic con movies like The Sting and The Grifters.
As a poker movie goes, it's okay. It's hardly up to the level of Rounders, but I'm sure it's better than Lucky You (which I haven't yet seen). We're not talking about a lot of straight up poker here, but the scenes at the table are enjoyable.
Sylvester Stallone is definitely in a role that suits him. He's "The Dean," the greatest "mechanic" in the world, a player who's never been beaten and who's legend grows every time a story is told. It's a nice departure from the cartoonish hero roles he usually plays.
Stuart Townsend plays Vernon, the young up-and-comer whose hands are pure magic. He enlists the help of two long time grifters (Gabriel Byrne and Thandie Newton) for a chance to take down The Dean in The Big Game. A smooth long con and a gun-fight with heavies from a Vegas mob boss create plenty of drama leading up the final heads-up battle.
It's a sleek, stylish movie which never crosses that fine line between solid con movie and impossible-to-believe farce. If you've got Netflix or Blockbuster Online, I'd suggest you put it in your queue.