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Last Bet (A.K.A Lesser Prophets)

In: mudwig, reviews, drama

07 Jul 2004
Last Bet or Lesser Prophets?
The back cover contains 100% of your RDA of gambling references with regards to seeing movies.

Last Bet, or Lesser Prophets, has some reasonable talent in it, including the always masterful John Turturro, NYPD Blue's Jimmy Smits, Elizabeth Perkins, Scott Glen who I shall forevermore associate with Hunt For Red October and John Spencer. It's a low budget movie, first time feature director, and looks like the kind of film the crops up in the early careers of many fine actors. However, this entry in the CV was actually made in 1997. By that point John Tuturro had already featured in Miller's Crossing and Barton Fink, Jimmy Smits was still working on NYPD Blue and George DiCenzo had provided his voice talents to She-Ra: Princess of Power. Still, evidently something attracted them away from their lucrative voice over careers for a few days, and it's a bit of shame that the script didn't land with a better director, as over all Last Bet is an enjoyable film that just could have been worth slightly more than ?1 on DVD.

The plot centers around George DiCenzo's book making operation. Detective "Iggy", played by Scott Glen, is after the trio of bookies, blaming them for his brother's suicide after they accepted a large bet for him which went south. After almost being busted they move to a new location, and make a huge bet themselves on a sure-thing, the tip being brought to them by the fairly mentally unstabled Leon (Turtuorro). Iggy tracks them down, but instead of bringing the bookies in demands the money back his brother bet. In the middle of this gambler Jimmy Smits informs the trio that he wont pay them his gambling debt, and gets himself shot, albeit somewhat accidentally, by Leon.

This may sound like a fairly dark film on paper, but it's propelled along by a weird sense of comedy, especially between the three bookies, and the random craziness that Turturro utters from time to time. The focus bounces back and forth between the main thread of the story and a whole host of side plots, including Iggy's wife's pregnancy, Leon's wife-beating neighbour and the unfortunate end of Jimmy Smit's backup man.

The script is suprisingly good, with plenty of pace and an energy that fits the New York setting. The actors put in good performances too, and really the main problems are inexperienced direction and editing. This is quite a shame, as the film had the potential to have been a much more mature and interesting piece than it ended up. Despite this, it's easy to enjoy the flow of the film, and after a bumpy first few minutes anyone with a reasonably open mind should be entertained enough to watch til the end without feeling unsatisfied.