It is hard to review this movie because I watched it on a HD screen while the movie (on DVD) was displayed in a tiny square box. Not only that, but the sound mix was even worse, with dialogue barely audible but the soundtrack was cranked to 11. A Martin Scorsese film has never looked nor sounded so bad. Since Scorsese is a big proponent for the archival and restoration of films, I’d recommend he take a look at The Color of Money DVD and get it remastered on Blu-Ray ASAP.
The Color of Money is the 25 year later sequel to The Hustler, a film I enjoyed quite a bit. The story picks up with Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) as a once famous pool shark now retired to the life of a liquor salesman. Eddie runs into a young cocky Vincent (Tom Cruise) who shows much the same promise at billiards as Fast Eddie once showed 25 years ago. Eddie sees an opportunity to make some real money with Vincent. After convincing Vincent that he’s wasting his time working at a toy store, Fast Eddie takes Vincent and Vincent’s girlfriend Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) on the road to hustle money in pool halls around the country. Eddie and Vincent are too much alike and Vincent pulls one too many thick headed moves for Eddie. The two have a falling out and decide to go their separate ways.
The movie meanders quite a bit. The inevitable lead up to a big match between mentor and student doesn’t feel as important as it should. Even a twist at the end isn’t nearly as effective as it could have been due to the long lulls leading up to the final reveal.
I was surprised I didn’t find the interactions and tension between Newman and Cruise more engaging. The tension felt manufactured. The more compelling relationship was that between Newman and Mastrantonio. I was never sure if Newman’s character was toying with her in order to get to Vincent or if there was more to it than that. The tension between them often created the best scenes.
I’d like to give Color of Money another chance, but only after it’s remastered properly. In its current form, it’s hard to say whether the movie is only average at best or overcomes some slow pacing and a lackluster final act with Scorsese’s magic touch. Thus I’m giving it a generous 3 stars, more for the promise than for what I tolerated.