Poker Face – Movie Review

TL;DR – There could have been a good film here, but it gets lost in the mess of two competing ideas.     

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Stan service that viewed this film

rolling waves

Poker Face Review

One of the things about reviewing films that can be frustrating is when you get a movie where you can see promise in there, but the final product just falls flat. You feel for the filmmakers because they were so close to finding something unique, but you must review what you get at the end of the day. Well, on that front, let’s look at Poker Face.

So to set the scene, we open in on a bunch of kids playing cards, jumping off cliffs, running from bullies, and being there for each other. Many years later, the leader of the group, Jake (Russell Crowe), is visiting a local shaman (Jack Thompson) in the bush and asking his lawyer Sam McIntyre (Daniel MacPherson), to arrange some trust accounts and an extraordinary evening. Soon Michael Nankervis (Liam Hemsworth), Alex Harris (Aden Young), and Paul Muccino (Steve Bastoni) are all racing up the coast in sports cars to make it to Jake’s luxury oceanside holiday house. The childhood friends will play a high-stakes poker game, but secrets are about to escape.

Men talking as the sun sets
Poker Face can be a beautiful film at times. Image Credit: Stan.

Before I get into the weeds of what went wrong here, I want to mention the things that worked. The first is that the production design and location scouts need to be celebrated for how they worked together to make every part of the film feel authentic. As well as this, I think most of the cast gave it their all, with a special shout-out to Brooke Satchwell, who must pull off a complicated role. Finally, the film looks stunning with some beautiful use of landscape and lighting.

But, it does not matter about the cast and production design if the narrative falls apart, which is what happened here. Now to talk about the narrative, there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. Poker Face goes wrong by having two competing ideas for a film that don’t support each other. There is one story where the man tries to poison his friends so he can get the truth before he dies, and the other is when a poker tournament for friends is interrupted by art thieves. Each of these stories could have supported the narrative in its own right, but combined, neither has the strength to make it through the runtime.

Playing poker
Poker Face surprisingly has very little poker. Image Credit: Stan.

For the first time in a long time, I was surprised that 90 minutes was not enough time to explore the themes of death and truth. For example, for a film with poker in the title, we only get one hand of poker in the grand tournament, which felt like all setup and no follow through. The intrigue about what all his friends did gets blasted through in a single conversation, and the attack feels more like an afterthought. But there are gems here, like the setup’s suspense, that you wish you had time to breathe.

In the end, do we recommend Poker Face? Look, it is not a bad film. It is just a very average film, which is a pity because you can see the potential throughout. If you liked Poker Face, I would recommend to you The Dry.         

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Poker Face?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us
Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day. 

Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Poker Face
Directed by
– Russell Crowe
Story by – Stephen M. Coates
Screenplay by – Russell Crowe
Music by – Antony Partos & Matteo Zingales
Cinematography by – Aaron McLisky
Edited by – Scott Gray & Matthew Woolley
Production/Distribution Companies – Sky, MEP Capital, Alceon Entertainment Partners, Arclight Films, Hamilton Entertainment, JBH Entertainment, Future Artists Entertainment, Fear of God Films & Stan
Starring – Russell Crowe, Liam Hemsworth, RZA, Aden Young, Steve Bastoni, Daniel MacPherson, Brooke Satchwell, Paul Tassone, Matt Nable, Benedict Hardie, Molly Grace, Elsa Pataky, Jack Thompson, Jacqueline McKenzie, Zara Zoe, Darcy Tadich, Rakeem Diggs, Calum Anderson, Bede Warnock, Zack Grech & Oscar Mitchell
Rating – Australia: MA15+;

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