The Card Counter

The Card Counter

Film Netflix
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Oscar Isaac is The Card Counter, in a revenge thriller that sadly doesn't offer much in the way of thrills or plot. Watchable but also forgettable.

The Card Counter, directed by Paul Schrader and released in 2021, delves into the dark and complex psychology of its characters as they navigate a world fraught with guilt, redemption, and existential despair.

With its deliberate pacing and nuanced performances, particularly from Oscar Isaac, the film invites audiences to a compelling, if unsettling, emotional journey set against the backdrop of seedy gambling dens and the poker table.

What Is The Card Counter About?

The film centres around William Tell (Oscar Isaac), a former military interrogator haunted by his past actions during the Iraq War.

A reclusive gambler, he ekes out a living by counting cards at low-stakes casino games, existing on the margins of society.

Tell's life takes a turn when he meets two figures: Cirk (Tye Sheridan), a young man with his own violent mission against Major John Gordo (Willem Dafoe), and La Linda (Tiffany Haddish), a gambling financier who offers to sponsor him in high-stakes tournaments.

Each of these characters opens up a new path for Tell: one towards vengeance, and another towards redemption.

With a chance at winning big in a high-stakes poker tournament, William Tell faces internal and external conflicts that challenge his commitment to staying detached.

Cirk's pursuit of revenge against Major Gordo, who was their commanding officer in the Iraq War, entangles Tell in a web of his own haunting memories and guilt.

Meanwhile, his growing closeness to La Linda raises questions about the possibility of love and a more conventional life outside the sphere of gambling and guilt.

Faced with the ghosts of his past and a future that could go either way, Tell has to make a choice. It is a choice that will define his identity and possibly offer him a measure of redemption.

But what will he choose?

The Card Counter Official Trailer

Is The Card Counter Worth Watching?

Oscar Isaac’s gripping performance is emotionally charged and brings depth to William Tell, making him a complex and sympathetic figure in what is otherwise a revenge thriller.

Of course, none of that would be possible without director Paul Schrader's trademark cinematic intensity. After all, this is the man who wrote Taxi Driver!

His storytelling techniques shine, artfully blending the worlds of poker, military guilt, and existential despair.

Throw in spot-on visuals – the dimly lit, smoky atmosphere of casinos versus the sterile environment of the military – and you would think The Card Counter would be a winner.

Not so, I'm afraid. The pacing is incredibly slow and while that occasionally works, overall the film could have benefited from tighter editing to keep viewers engaged.

For a movie that boasts Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish, Tye Sheridan and Willem Dafoe you would think more would have been done to develop the characters but they are, apart from Isaac, one-dimensional and needed to be fleshed out more to give them greater depth and relevance in the narrative.

And speaking of narrative, sadly The Card Counter never quite knows what story it's telling. We are presented with two different stories that are awkwardly shoehorned together and neither is ever fully realised.

It should have been better but sadly just meanders along rather pointlessly.

The Card Counter Movie Cast

Oscar Isaac (Moon Knight) as William Tell, an ex-military interrogator turned card counter.

Tye Sheridan as Cirk, a young man on a revenge mission against Major John Gordo.

Tiffany Haddish as La Linda, a gambling financier who offers Tell a different kind of life.

Willem Dafoe as Major John Gordo, former commanding officer of Tell and the target of Cirk's revenge.


  • Oscar Isaac Is Excellent
  • Visually Hits The Mark


  • Two Stories That Never Gel
  • Incredibly Slow In Parts
  • Completely Disjointed Plot


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