Friday, March 17, 2017

Blackjack (1978)

Utterly forgettable but basically competent in its storytelling and technical execution, Blackjack tells the humdrum story of an ex-con staging an elaborate heist in Las Vegas with the help of several fellow criminals. Despite the presence of B-movie icon William Smith in a supporting role, always a shot in the arm for any project, Blackjack was doomed to fail the moment hopelessly bland actor Damu King was cast in the leading role. He’s sufficiently formidable to put across the visual concept of a badass crook out for a payoff and/or payback—one gets the vague sense of a revenge angle—but he’s not interesting to watch. Neither are his exploits, because movies about ripping off casinos in Vegas are nearly as old as Vegas itself. The story begins with Roy (King) exiting prison after having acquired and/or sharpened his blackjack skills behind bars—because, of course, most penologists encourage inmates to participate in high-stakes gambling during their incarceration. Roy organizes old allies for an ambitious scheme to rip off casinos that are operated by the mob, and word of the impending crime reaches Andy Mayfield (Smith), the top security guy at one of the mob’s casinos. He has some sort of history with Roy, though parsing the details isn’t worth the trouble. Andy joins forces with a fellow enforcer, Charles (played by Tony Burton, familiar to fans of the Rocky franchise as Apollo Creed’s corner man), and they strive to prevent Roy from pulling off the heist. Events churn toward the inevitable showdown between Andy and Roy. Whatever. It’s all so familiar and pointless and unimaginative as to be painfully boring, even with a soundtrack powered by slick R&B/funk music.

Blackjack: LAME

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