Kevin Spacey is on excellent form as the smooth-talking, ruthlessly-bullying super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff in director George Hickenlooper’s real-life saga of corruption at the highest levels.
It’s pretty dense, labyrinthine stuff, but the gist is enough - Abramoff , who ended up in jail, believes he can buy anything and anyone, all to fund his extravagant lifestyle, though probably his real motive is simply enjoyment of power for power’s sake.
It all gets decidedly murky in a tale of offshore casinos into which he seems to drag pretty much everyone, pressurising politicians and crooks alike into giving him precisely what he wants, whatever the damage along the way.
Spacey creates a high-flying monster, and if there’s any morality in this tale, it’s that eventually he flies too high and comes a cropper.
But more interesting than whether he gets his just desserts or not is simply the skill with which Spacey creates this freewheeling double-dealer, a guy without the least scintilla of conscience as he attempts to manipulate everyone in the way of his total control.
Spacey conjures a character who revels in the game and is determined to play it at the highest level, always aware that disaster is just a breath away. His reaction to the prison he ends up in says it all: he simply begins again, an indestructible player determined to play on, whatever happens.
It’s a film which gets fairly bogged down, and it’s an awful struggle to follow the detail and appreciate too many of the nuances, but ignore all that: it’s Spacey who carries it with a formidable performance.
Rental courtesy of Blockbuster. For details of other new releases, see www.blockbuster.co.uk.