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'Cold Deck' can't catch a break

'Cold Deck' can't catch a break
Stéfano Gallo as Bobby in the 2015 movie, "Cold Deck." (Sudden Storm Productions)

The odds are effectively stacked against "Cold Deck" from the get-go.

Set in the jaundiced world of high-stakes poker, the Canadian crime drama invites (unfavorable) comparison to any number of similarly themed films that have preceded it, from "Rounders" to the recent, well-received "Mississippi Grind," while bringing nothing compelling or substantial to the table.

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Desperately down on his luck, compulsive gambler Bobby (the film's co-writer, Stefano Gallo) digs himself a deeper hole when he and his buddy (Kerr Hewitt) make the mistake of holding up a clandestine, high-rolling game presided over by the vengeful Turk (an axe pistol-wielding Robert Knepper).

Although viewers have been dealt this sort of hand countless times before, director Zack Bernbaum lays it all down with little discernible style or dramatic heft, signaling the plot's obligatory turned tables and double crosses well ahead of their appearance.

Aside from Paul Sorvino's sly performance as a paternal goodfella-type named "Chips" (the sort of role he could probably play in his sleep by now), Bobby and company are strictly a dime a dozen — as overly familiar as they are under-developed.

Face cards have more depth of character.

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"Cold Deck"

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood

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