Deal is a poker drama that could really use some work. Over the course of the entire movie, I found it difficult to get truly engaged with what was going on. The real poker junkie will find this film somewhat engaging, but it can be a real snoozer for the casual viewer. It's directed by Gil Cates, Jr., who co-wrote the screenplay with Mike Weinstock.
Bret Harrison plays Alex Stillman, a 21-year-old college student who has played poker online with Pokerstars. After being spotted by former poker great Tommy Vinson (played by Burt Reynolds), Vinson elects to seek out and train the young prodigy to become one of poker’s best.
Vinson, who quit poker to keep his marriage alive, has been out of the game more than 20 years. His love for the game of poker never quit on him though, and he finds himself enjoying poker tournaments on TV when his wife isn’t watching. The majority of the movie is based around the joint partnership between Stillman and Vinson as they work to get to the top of the game together.
However, several events take place that end up straining their relationship, and Stillman chooses to return home. Initially, both men's families are upset over their involvement in the tournament, and this storyline is explored further. With family issues plaguing both of the players, the quest for both of these players to get to the World Poker Tour main event is an interesting storyline that unfolds nicely.
I enjoyed Burt Reynold’s character significantly and felt that he played the role very well. Of all of the characters in the film, I felt that his was the most believable.
The poker action is probably the most exciting part of the movie, but everything else is fairly predictable and bland. The poker personalities did not seem scripted, and each player acted in a realistic fashion. I felt that the movie did not hit on the outside lives of poker players as much as I had hoped, and the small moments of humor just weren’t all that funny.
All in all, Deal is not a horrible movie, but there are parts that can certainly be better. The poker movie genre is a little bit overdone, and if you’re looking for an action-packed movie, you’ll have to fold on this one.