15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
How long can you screw someone before you get caught? The true story of super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff (Spacy) and his partner Michael Scanlon (Pepper). After finding a contribution loophole, Abramoff and Scanlon begin to exploit this and become very, very rich. I enjoyed this movie. I like true story movies, and I really enjoy political ones too. There was a lot of stuff in here I didn't know about. The amount he took and the favors he gave out are astounding. This movie really exposes the lengths that he and other senators will go to in order to get what they want. The movie is filled with different movie quotes from the "Godfather", "Rocky" and others, which is fun (Spacy is a pretty good impressionist). Overall I really liked this movie, and found myself liking Abramoff even less then before. The amount of money he through around to get his way is enough to make you sick, especially when you think a lot of our tax money went to helping him by a casino boat. Abramoff gets an F, as for the movie, I give it a B+.
Would I watch again? - Yes I would, this is the kind of movie I like
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
A Jack Abramoff film had the real potential to become an A film. Something happened on the way to the theatre. The story is one that needs to be told, good actors, but it is a film that is too outlandish and too over the top. This is probably the real Abramoff. The man who gives lobbyists a really bad name. He put Tom DeLay into the eyesight of the real world, and DeLay was found guilty at his trial. The dirty tricks and murder and mayhem attributed to Jack Abramoff and his ilk is so messy and so ugly that comparing it to the Watergate may seem second rate. All of the power in DC it seems, was beholden to Jack Abramoff. Money was given and spent freely to win elections. Abramoff says plainly that without the money he spent in Florida on Bush's behalf, Bush would not have won the Presidency. I agree with him that our country may have been a better place.
What seems to me to be the best of the film, is a scene in a Senate hearing with John McCain presiding. Some of the Senators present were given money by Abramoff and yet, here they were berating him for his practices. The real hearing with McCain present is interspersed with actors. It is quite extraordinary. Real names are used, and the actors portraying them are very much like them. This part of politics that we seem to see more of on a daily basis is abhorrent to most of us. To the politicians who inhabit DC, it is business as usual.
Jack's family stood by him. He is portrayed as a man with an ego bigger than he is. A little off center and downright crazy at times. Someone who spent money literally like water. He bought and sold and then bought and sold some more. Little thought to anyone but to his need to be the biggest man. Well, he failed.
Recommended. prisrob 04-09-11
Beyond the Sea
Love at Stake
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Casino Jack' chronicles the rise and fall of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff starring Kevin Spacey. The film begins with his indictment, followed by a flashback to the beginning of his career as a high-powered lobbyist. The film does not get too deeply into Abramoff's activities in his younger days as head of the College Republican National committee and brief stint as a film producer. For information on his formative years, it is well advised to watch the excellent documentary about Abramoff entitled 'Casino Jack and the United States of Money'.
'Casino Jack' mainly focuses on the three major areas of Abramoff's lobbying history: work on behalf of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island (CNMI), for various Native American tribes to promote their casino gambling interests and purchase of SunCruz Casinos in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, initially owned by Konstantinos 'Gus' Boulos.
At the basic level, 'Casino Jack' provides an informative but somewhat superficial review of Abramoff's illicit activities (again, to be better informed, check out the documentary CJ and the US of Money). In the case of CNMI, sweatshop owners took advantage of the lax labor laws on the islands since the strict regulatory laws of the US did not apply. Abramoff got millions from these crooks to influence legislators to ensure that the sweatshop owners continued to exploit cheap labor imported from Asian countries. At one point, Abramoff is able to have Majority leader Tom Delay come out to the Marianas where he wines and dines him (including ubiquitous golf outings). Delay fails to make any deep inquiries regarding exploitation of the workers and is the later recipient of contributions to his campaign war chest and foundations from Abramoff. 'Casino Jack' further chronicles a setback that Abramoff must deal with--a new governor squashes Abramoff's contract so later CNMI senators are paid off and the senate council reinstates the contract. The US of Money documentary provides a sad postscript: international treaties eventually add regulatory clout to the garment industry so the sweatshop owners pick up and leave, resulting in the destruction of the islands' economy.
Abramoff's take no prisoners approach reaches its apotheosis in his dealings with the Native American tribes. Partnering with former Delay assistant, Mike Scanlon (played by an over the top Barry Pepper) Abramoff extracts millions from the Louisiana Coushatta tribe to ensure that the State of Texas passes a law preventing the Tiguas in El Paso from continuing to operate their casino there. He convinces the Coushatta tribe that his old college chum Ralph Reed, head of the Christian coalition, will work for the abolition of casino gambling in Texas. Since it would look bad that Reed was getting money from the Coushattas, their payments were funneled into a shell company under Scanlon's name. Money was sent to Reed and Scanlon but Abramoff of course got his cut, unbeknownst to the tribal leaders who agreed to the deal with Scanlon.. Then Abramoff goes back to the Tiguas and convinces them that although Reed worked against them in Texas, he actually was providing information about his anti-gambling strategy which would help Abramoff reverse the Texas ban on casino gambling. As it turned out, Abramoff's influence came to naught when Congress failed to overturn the Texas ban. The Tiguas were out millions and the embezzlement of their money figured in the eventual indictment of Abramoff.
Finally, in the most difficult to understand part of the movie, Abramoff enlists the aid of a disbarred attorney and Mattress company TV pitchman Adam Kidan, played by Jon Lovitz to purchase the SunCruz casino cruise boats. Lovitz plays Kidan as a comic sleaze-ball. The Abramoff documentary shows Kidan to be much more intelligent and classier than the way Lovitz depicts him here. The upshot of the SunCruz deal was that the owner Boulos was forced to sell his interest in his company since he was not a US Citizen. Abramoff conscripted a US representative Bob Ney (later convicted and jailed) to denounce Boulos in the Congressional record in exchange for access to Tom Delay. This apparently moved Boulos to act more quickly in agreeing to the sale of the company to Abramoff and Kidan. In order to obtain a $60 million loan, Abramoff and Kidan used a fake wire transfer of $23 million dollars and this was what they were eventually sent to prison for.
'Casino Jack' also delves into Abramoff's relationship with his wife, and some of his other interests including establishing of an Orthodox Jewish school for boys and two restaurants that he opened up for a time. Kevin Spacey is good at regurgitating all those movie lines Abramoff was famous for coupled with some notable impressions of famous politicians. But Spacey plays Abramoff more as a manic showman; the real Abramoff (in the documentary) appears to be much more low-key and cunning. Much more convincing is Spencer Garrett as Tom Delay who really gets the former representative down to a tee. Hannah Endicott-Douglass does a fine job as Abramoff's long-suffering wife. One of the best scenes is when she confronts her husband while he's taking a bath. Abramoff says he's ashamed of himself for letting 'God' down. The wife asks, "what about your family?"
For those who know nothing about the history of Jack Abramoff, 'Casino Jack' should be viewed as a basic primer on the events surrounding Abramoff's rise and fall. The film's scenarists do a fairly adequate job in covering the bases but much of what happens is not always easy to follow. That's what happens when there is too much material available to condense. I would have preferred that the casting director chose someone else besides Kevin Spacey to play Abramoff. Nevertheless, his performance is passable enough to hold one's interest to the end. I'm not entirely sure that 'Casino Jack' works as a comedy (which is what was basically done here). Certainly, there were comic moments to the saga. Overall, however, this was more tragic than funny.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Joseph H. Race
- Published on Amazon.com
Living in the CNMI and watching all the crooked stuff coming down, it was interesting and satisfying to see that the illegal lobbyists got their due - most of our local island politicians and their appointees escaped the feds but understandable in that our crooked politicos are "small potatoes" next to the big guys in Washington. It was shameful for America to see how the foreign workers survived in the garment factories at such low wages. All the factories have now moved to low-pay areas such as Viet Nam, Cambodia, etc. I enjoyed the movie, and I felt that Kevin did his typical wonderful portrayal of the main character. The other players were equally suitable and interesting in their roles. The movie is fast-moving and might be confusing unless you had some previous knowledge of the CNMI, the tribes and the gambling ships. One of the classic lines from Jack (about staying fit and healthy), "I work out every day..."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Lots of movies poke fun at American politics by following the lives or careers of real or fictional government officials. These include movies such as Wag the Dog, and Primary Colors. This might be the first movie to do it from the standpoint of corporate lobbyists. This film follows the career of Jack Abramoff, key fundraiser for the GOP throughout the 1990's and early 2000's. The movie examines his rise through the world of influence, finally landing him in jail. Key to his story is the parallel themes of his amoral use of his skills to further the GOP, side-by-side with his personal faith to his Jewish heritage. This does bring up one point the movie left out, but should have really included, and that is the many of the politicians he helped come to power catered to evangelical Americans that often looked down on Jews as the betrayers of Christ. The film is well cast for all the roles except one, and that is Jack Abramoff himself. Outside of being a white man of about average height, Kevin Spacey bears little physical resemblance to Jack Abramoff in either voice, face, or cut. Hence the 4/5 instead of 5/5 stars.