The Card Counter

A tedious film with a great premise that will leave most of you fighting boredom.

This is an extraordinarily dull film that kills an inventive plot. Oscar Isaac plays William Tell, a former prison inmate following his role in the military, where he tortured and abused prisoners in Abu Ghraib. Having learned to count cards, he now travels to various casinos to make a few bucks.

Tortured by his past, he invites Cirk (Tye Sheridan), a young man, to join his journey. Cirk is haunted by the suicide of his abusive father, who also was assigned to Abu Ghraib, and he seeks revenge on Major John Gordo (Willem Dafoe), the Abu Ghraib commander who escaped punishment.

The problem with the film is that it is largely a casino card game that slowly goes nowhere. Despite great actors, which includes Tiffany Haddish as LaLinda, a front woman for investors who bankroll gamblers, there is no character development at any time. It becomes a cinematic one trick pony.

The film is written and directed by Paul Schrader who has brought us a long list of great films, four of which he co-wrote with Martin Scorsese. However, even Babe Ruth struck out on occasion and here Mr. Schrader went down swinging.

Ironically, The Card Counter has one inspirational moment near the end that I dare not give away. Regardless, it will come as no surprise that Isaac’s Tell adjusted quite well to life in prison. There was no other way for him to escape his past.