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Review: Two For The Money

Having a great cast doesn’t always guarantee a great movie, though thankfully this is not the case with Two for the Money. While the movie is definitely not one of its kind and does not represent the key project for any of the actors, it is definitely one of the best movies of 2005. I mean, how could a movie be bad with people like Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, and Rene Russo in the cast? The movie had to be the worst of the worst in order to overcome the greatness of the trio.

“Two for the Money” is directed by D.J Caruso, where Al Pacino is doing something that he is great at, he is acting and completing his role terrifically well. Yet the best part is that the movie does not stand on Pacino and his acting skills alone, rather than on the amazing trio. Al Pacino plays Walter, who runs a sports betting hotline, Matthew McConaughey plays Brandon, who is a Vegas oddsmaker and imports to New York, renames and turns into a star and Rene plays Toni, Walter’s wife, who loves him. With all of them, you can definitely feel the joy of the performance and the excitement of the movie play.

All of them are wonderful actors, which is why the movie managed to deliver not the technical feel of the betting and gambling industry which is well presented in the movie, but the emotional aspect and background of it. Walter, who is represented by Al Pacino, is amazed and mesmerized by the skills of Brandon, played by Matthew McConaughey. On the other hand, Toni is a recovering junkie, who is definitely struggling with her life and wants to be by the side of her husband all the time.

Movie review

The movie features the nature of the gambling and betting market, which is rather addictive, tricky, and exciting as well as brings good money. Walter has some operations to grasp. His offices and home are in the same building, Prairie-style in dark wood and window partitions. On the ground floor, there is the hotline office, with the guys who offer you to pay $25 and be in the early line for your weekend bets. On the second flow, there is a bigger business.

The second floor is all about gambling and the material outcome and income it leaves. The gamblers are expected to pay a percentage of what they win from their bookies. That is the way Walter is technically earning his fortune and not even breaking the law. If we consider the modern betting industry and market, it is way more regulated, and hardly ever will someone breach the law vibrantly, because of the big fines. Most of the underground and offshore casinos take a percentage of the bettors, rather than make their own bets. This is the common practice that is used by many online casinos and bookmakers.

Accuracy is essential in many types of games. The predictions also play a big role in the gaming process. The games which require a lot of attention and predictions are especially popular in Scandinavian countries, in Norway. Apparently, people in Norway are more comfortable with risk and have good intuition as well, because the statistics show that games that require a lot of focus and predictions are very successful and deliver quite decent prizes for the players. Similar information can also be found on this site, together with some interesting details about overall online casino games in the region. It might also be a good chance for a comparison between the movie and the real-life statistics.

The way bookmakers and online casinos earn is not the only thing taken from real-life examples. The characters are also pretty realistic and while they might not represent any specific people, the characteristics and the features might remind you of someone involved in the betting business. Though, the movie is less about technicalities and more about emotions.

Walter is the promoter who at one point admits that his operations are made of smoke and mirrors, and imports Brandon after noticing his skills of prediction and how accurate they are. This guy definitely got some skeletons in his wardrobe. So, Water brings Brandon to the city, gets him a decent haircut, dresses him well, and puts him on TV. On the other hand, Brandon does not disappoint and calls 12 out of 12 games.

The movie is full of monologues which might be the most memorable part of the movie. Especially when the monologues are from Al Pacino and are spoken out loud on the Anonymous Gamblers meetings. Here is one of the very famous and very clever words which are spoken at one of the meetings. “We’re all lemons. We need to lose.” When they lose everything – the job, the house, the family – they are most fully alive, he says. When they win, they keep gambling until they lose again.” And this is all about the movie and its feelings.

The Trio

Those three characters are interconnected and it is very interesting to watch them change and transform. The movie shows the transformation very well and you have to see it. The characters grow and develop and they change. Walter is the one who has not gambled in years. Brandon has never gambled and Toni started gambling after marrying Walter. Together they have a daughter. One more interesting characteristic of Walter’s persona is that he drinks anti-angina pills. He sometimes has angina attacks, on which his response is “It was only a small one”.

The transformation of the characters is the one that will make you glued to the screen. You will need some time to clearly understand what is Brandon doing and to understand that Walter knows what he is doing. The situation is changing drastically and equally dangerously and this is the action that you need, with some extra feelings. It is not only about making stakes on a poker game but on the game of life.


At the very beginning, it might seem that the movie is only about one guy owning a big enough building to have a house and office all in one yet separately. Or about Walter and Brandon and some telephone guys who are making grand by simply taking a percentage out of the correctly predicted game. This is way more than a classic MacGuffin plot, it is Two for the Money!



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