Casino Jack: movie review

Superlobbyist Jack Abramoff comes across has sleazily sophisticated in 'Casino Jack,' as Kevin Spacey burnishes the sleaze to a fine polish.

Charles Sykes/AP
Barry Pepper, right, Kevin Spacey, center, and Jon Lovitz attend a screening of 'Casino Jack' hosted by The Cinema Society and The Creative Coalition in New York, Dec. 16.

Kevin Spacey gives a bravura performance as superlobbyist Jack Abramoff in the late George Hickenlooper’s uneven but often loopily entertaining “Casino Jack,” written by Norman Snider. Spacey is usually tiptop in movies that bring out his inner sleazeball. (Conversely, he’s dullish in movies where virtuousness is key, like “Pay It Forward.”) In “Casino Jack,” he burnishes Abramoff’s sleaze to a fine polish.

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It’s impossible to entirely hate Jack, even at his most hateful, and this is in keeping with the man himself – who, after all, staked his highly successful career on buttering people up big-time. There are other good performances: Barry Pepper as Jack’s right-hand man Michael Scanlon; Jon Lovitz as a crooked Florida mattress salesman who joins forces with Jack; and the late Maury Chaykin, the great Canadian actor, who plays a mob kingpin and whose last screen appearance this is. Grade: B (Rated R for pervasive language, some violence and brief nudity.)

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