In the poker world, there’s little that evokes the smell of the poker room, the touch of the cards and the taste of victory and defeat quite like the Matt Damon and Edward Norton movie Rounders. This indie film became a huge success in the late 90s, and continues to feature prominently in the minds of fans. The Washington Post talked of its portrayal of poker as a game where ‘fortune rides on the snap of a card and the loft of a bluffer’s eyebrow’. It’s a great way of describing the tension and adrenaline fueled by the game at its best. It has a solid 65% tomato meter score on RottenTomatoes.com, while its audience score has rocketed to nearly 90%. And now, as we continue into the 2020s, there is talk of a remake.
You’d be forgiven for being a little doubtful, as talk about a Rounders sequel has cropped up several times over the years, to no avail. This time, however, Matt Damon himself has spoken about the possibility of a remake, explaining that ‘the actors had a really good time working together,’ before adding, ‘Maybe someday it’ll happen.’ Moreover, the writing team has announced they’re ‘concentrating on Rounders 2’. So, perhaps we can permit ourselves to get a little excited.
The movie didn’t just click with audiences at the time – it’s still relevant today. Part of the reason for that is that the emotions and themes explored are universal and eternal. Decisions, risks and huge consequences are pretty omnipresent themes. Also, the film was many viewers’ introduction to Texas Hold’em poker – whose rules Poker.org explains here – and is believed to have inspired some future professional players as well. Today, this variety of poker is the most popular in the world.
It stands to reason then, that the immortalization of the most popular form of poker on our screens would continue to resonate with audiences today.
It being such a classic, you’d be forgiven for worrying about how a sequel might look, and how it might reflect on the original. Might it tarnish the classic reputation of Rounders? Or will it be seen as a totally separate film? We don’t even know if it’ll be called Rounders 2 – it might look to distance itself in the title, to escape the expectations of the former. What we do know is that one of the main names being linked to the second film over and over again is Leonardo DiCaprio.
Rumor has it that it will be based on a script by the same writers as the first film, Levien and Koppleman, and that it’ll be about online casinos. This might better reflect the state of today. One of the writers compared the countries where online casinos are set up to the Wild West. We can certainly imagine DiCaprio gallivanting down to these off-shore gambling hubs in the far corners of the earth in a desperate shot at making it big. It’s like The Beach mixed with The Wolf of Wall Street.
However, anyone hoping to find out what Teddy KGB was holding in the film’s final hand is in for disappointment. ‘It’s something we never answer,’ said Levien.
When we look at movies like The Nice Guys or The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in our Too Cool 2 Be True post, it’s only because others have set the bar so high previously. And it’s hard to think of a film that better defines the term “cult classic” than Rounders. Here’s to a second round.