Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan
Release Date: December 14, 2021
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7/10
Disc Rating: 6.5/10
Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader’s (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) THE CARD COUNTER is told with Schrader’s trademark cinematic intensity. An ex-military interrogator turned gambler is haunted by the ghosts of his past decisions. Redemption is the long game in this revenge thriller featuring riveting performances from stars Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, and Tye Sheridan.
Please Note: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘The Card Counter’ follows an ex-military interrogator tormented by his days at war; now fresh out of prison he spends his time at the local casinos making some quick cash by utilizing his learned technique of card counting and always being careful to avoid attracting attention. But when he crosses paths with a young man on a dangerous personal mission, he takes him under his wing and enlists in a chain of poker tournaments, believing that if he can help this young man to avoid his thoughts of revenge and set him up financially it might serve as a form personal redemption that he wasn’t previously aware of needing.
Written and directed by Paul Schrader (First Reformed, Hardcore) who does a nice job of guiding along the tale with a calm, uncertain tone that works quite well. The film also benefits from a cast that features numerous talented individuals including Oscar Isaac (Annihilation), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse) and more, with the majority each offering altogether solid and fitting performances for the most part in their respective roles.
‘The Card Counter’ is a compelling and at times quite touching look at one troubled man’s attempt to try and help a lost soul and possibly redeem himself in his own eyes at the same time. With a calmly paced style and a cast of talented individuals led by Oscar Isaac to help it along, filmmaker Paul Schrader crafts a unique and often quite beautiful drama that takes it time building its world and the characters populating it, even if it does occasionally drag along the way. The tension within is largely psychological and much of it revolves around what’s occurring inside of our lead’s head, cleverly using a different camera and filming technique to match the dizzying confusion and uncertainty we can imagine he’s feeling while reliving some of these moments during flashback sequences sprinkled throughout the film. I would certainly encourage trying to find the time to check out ‘The Card Counter’ whenever possible if you enjoy a solid dramatic thriller with some heart and humanity at its core or if you’re a fan of filmmaker Paul Schrader and/or lead actor Oscar Isaac and the other notable cast members. It may be somewhat slow at times and doesn’t always make every element work, but it offers a fairly emotional and touching tale of one lost man trying to do the one thing he believes to be right and it’s worth taking the time to give a chance.
Overall, ‘The Card Counter’ is an intriguing and calmly paced dramatic thriller from filmmaker Paul Schrader with a talented cast to back it up that offers a touching and at times equally unnerving exploration of a troubled ex-military man’s attempt to find redemption and the young man he takes under his wing. ‘The Card Counter’ is recommended, especially for fans of both Paul Schrader and Oscar Isaac who each have something noteworthy to offer here on opposite sides of the camera. It’s a calm, composed and at times surprisingly moving tale of man’s attempt at redemption and how he uses his learned talents to try and help another he believes to be in need. It should be worth the price of a rental and a couple hours of your time if you’re already intrigued by it. At the very least it’s certainly worth a watch should you come across it on your favorite premium channel or streaming service.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Card Counter’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original Aspect Ratio presented primarily in a 1.66:1 Side Matted ratio, with a few flashback sequences that shift to a 2.00:1 ratio. The video presentation looks great as a whole and offers a clean, smooth and nicely detailed presentation from start to finish with no unexpected troubles arising throughout. It holds up nicely from the brightly lit moments down to the darker sequences and never suffers from any notable problems along the way. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that does its job well and never disappoints.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack provides a clean, crisp and well balanced audio presentation throughout. While it’s certainly not a surround heavy film by nature, it still utilizes all five available channels whenever appropriate in order to contribute music, background chatter and other fitting audio effects to casually heighten any given scene, while always making certain that all dialogue and other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously remain clean, sharp and fully audible every step of the way. Overall, this is a very capable 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it and never falters along the way.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Card Counter’ includes one extra, the Behind the Scenes Featurette ‘A High-Stakes World’ (running approximately 5 minutes in length) which includes interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus some behind the scenes footage and more.
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They will additionally suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 7/10
Disc Rating: 6.5/10
‘The Card Counter’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Focus Features & Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
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