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Two For the Money
(2005)

Yet another in the Pacino-as-mentor cycle that has taken up too much of his mid-90s and beyond output. See also Devil’s AdvocateCity HallDonnie BrascoThe Recruit. Sometimes decent, usually forgettable. This time the young pretender is swaggering Matthew McConaughey, never a screen presence lacking in confidence despite a career consisting mostly of piffle. His ex-football star turned small-time betting tips seller goes to work for Pacino’s big time version (there’s a weekly TV show!), and so begins a rites of passage that hits every predictable plot point going. 

McConaughey’s character is basically a reject Tom Cruise role, the sort of thing you’d expect the to see him in a good decade before this was made (the morality play being mined here is very ‘80s, lending a sense that this is a second hand project in both stars and eventual arrival on screen). Jeremy Piven shows up to do his familiar fast-talking sleazeball schtick, while Rene Russo, as usual, gives it her all as Pacino’s underwritten spouse. 

As for Pacino, you can see the appeal of the character; a fast-talking, grandstanding, amoral, addictive personality. But it’s the sort of role he can do in his sleep and there’s a thin line between playing it big and shameless mugging. At this stage in his career, reining it in would be far more of a challenge. DJ Caruso directs with journeyman competence, a director only as good as his next B-movie material script.

**1/2

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