The Cooler

I generally like William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin, and I’m reasonably receptive to parables about Las Vegas gamblers, but this first feature by Wayne Kramer lost me early on with its show-offy shooting and editing, portentous metaphysical conceits about winners and losers, and exaggerated displays of evil, violence, and deceit. Macy is a congenital hard-luck case indentured to casino owner Baldwin, who uses him to inflict bad luck on winning gamblers. When Macy and a pretty cocktail waitress (Maria Bello) fall for each other, Baldwin turns into such a meanie he makes Mephistopheles look like a pussycat. There are more scams at work in this scenario than I could keep up with, but I couldn’t believe in any of them. With Paul Sorvino. R, 101 min. (JR)

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