It's silly and simplistic, but I've come to the conclusion that I'm starting a new two-party system. Everyone is welcomed to join me. You're on one side or the other - you're a Yourselfican or a Yourselfocrat. Two sides, but both looking out for the same person: yourself. Why? You'd better look out for yourself, because the people in Washington, DC clearly are not. In a way, many of them are already on the Yourselfican or Yourselfocrat bandwagon because they're not looking out for you, they're looking out for themselves, as politics becomes continually more lucrative, with special interests and other big money. Your needs? They're somewhere down the list. FAR down.
"Casino Jack" comes at a time when both parties can't even stop playing embarrassingly high school-esque politics in order to even start to fix a massive, almost unthinkable budget deficit that gets worse every minute (a BD-Live feature for this film could have been a pop-up debt clock, updated live throughout the running time and summarized at the end.) The film stars Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramhoff, the real-life pro lobbyist that took lobbying to a whole other level. At the end, not only was Jack taken down by the feds, but the ripple effects of his work fanned out across DC.
Rather than offering a more serious take on the story and focusing on the details, the film takes a breezier approach to telling the story. Ambramhoff, who built up tremendous power and influence, became one of the top lobbyists in the country. With the help of cohorts Scanlon (Barry Pepper) and Adam Kidan (Jon Lovitz), Ambramhoff defrauds the leaders of an Indian casino he's lobbying for - although that's only one of many misdeeds.
It's moderately entertaining and Kevin Spacey offers a good performance (which isn't surprising, given Spacey's delight at ramping up a sleazy performance), but in a time period where such financial corruption is being met largely with indifference, rather than offer a bold and ambitious take on corruption in DC these days, the film remains very surface in its exploration of Ambramhoff and the kind of moral hazard issues that the country has seen since the financial crisis.
The story gets better, more in-depth treatment in the documentary, "Casino Jack and the United States of Money", but "Casino Jack" is still an entertaining overview, thanks to fine performances from Spacey, Pepper and others. The documentary is the best choice for those looking for a richer take on Abramhoff, but while it does not have the same impact, "Casino Jack" still gets the point across: more than ever before, decisions in DC are decided on by the highest bidder.
VIDEO: "Casino Jack" is presented by Fox in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) and the result is fine, as the presentation offered consistently crisp, moderately smooth and detailed. A bit of minor edge enhancement and a couple of traces of pixelation were spotted, but these minor issues were not much of a concern. Colors looked bright and natural, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The DTS-HD 5.1 presentation was largely dialogue-driven, with limited use of the surrounds beyond mild reinforcement of the music and light ambience.
EXTRAS: Photo gallery, gag reel, deleted scenes.
Final Thoughts: "Casino Jack" isn't perfect, but it still gets the point across: more than ever before, decisions in DC are decided on by the highest bidder. The Blu-Ray offers fine audio/video quality, but little in the way of extras. A recommended rental.
The Film B