The movie opens with a title card which reads: "As luck would have it, this is based on a true story". It's hard to see where luck comes into play as there's nothing about this bland story which makes it stand out.
It seems contradictory that in America, the home of capitalism, bookmaking is illegal. I live in a country where the practice is not only legal but is a major contributor to the economy. The top bookmaker, Paddy Power, ranks alongside Guinness as one of the great Irish success stories and they have branches on practically every main street. For this reason I found it hard to see it as something dangerous and thrilling like it's portrayed here.
Everything seems to happen too easily for Hall's character, creating little in the way of dramatic conflict. The movie's final third is meant to evoke the sort of paranoia of the finale of "Goodfellas" but we never get any genuine sense of threat. It's all as middle of the road as it gets, the film isn't humorous enough to be a comedy or serious enough for a drama.
Most of the cast phone in their performances and you can't really blame them as the script is so dull. Hall however is compelling to watch. Her Daisy Dukes clad good-time girl is light years away from the sort of uptight waif roles she's been typecast in. There's also plenty of her on display which I certainly won't complain about.
There have been many great films about gambling, and movies like "The Gambler" and "California Split" have used the subject for existential explorations. Frears wastes the concept with this flimsy tale that's simply not worth taking a punt on.