Director: George Hickenlooper
Screenplay: Norman Snider
Producers: Gary Howsman, Bill Marks & George Zakk
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Barry Pepper, Kelly Preston & Jon Lovitz
Year: 2010
Country: USA
Duration: 108 mins

Jack Abramoff (Spacey) is the hottest, most influential lobbyist in Washington DC and all looks good for Jack and his partner-in-slime Michael Scanlon (Pepper) until they try and push a little too hard.

For those of us unfamiliar with US political circles – the role of the lobbyist is take payments from individuals, or organisations, and then use their relationship with Senators and the like, to influence political thinking. And it seems it’s entirely legal. So much for cash for questions …

Abramoff and Scanlon take millions off Native Americans to press their cause but the duo also look to feather their own nests into the bargain. The poster for the film bears the tag ‘in greed we trust’, and it’s that greed which leads to their downfall.

In one of their more shady deals they enlist the ‘help’ of Adam Kidan (Lovitz), a well known sleazy crook. Lovitz, it seems, cannot escape the type-cast. But at least he does it with his usual panache and cheese. He almost steals the film. However, the duo’s deal with Kidan goes pear-shaped and the house-of-cards falls around them: the police get involved, the truth about their working practices gets out and their once close political friends suddenly distance themselves.

Spacey delivers his usual commanding performance and Pepper does an admirable job of portraying the weasel-like Scanlon. The cinematography was first rate and the editing just as slick as the story demands.

What’s interesting about this rather run-of-the-mill tale of greed and ruin is that it’s based on the real life story of Abramoff, who was sentenced to six years in prison in 2004 for his part in the Indian lobbying scandal and dealings with SunCruz Casinos.

Casino Jack is now available on DVD.

Review by Andy Goodman

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