While we in Blighty can saunter on down to Ladbrokes to place a bet on pretty much anything, it's all rather illegal in much of the US. Hence a flurry of betting in a billion-dollar industry skirting the dodgy legal waters of 'advising' - a little like that bloke down the pub who suggests you bet on Glue Factory for the 3:10 at Chepstow, but instead with 'experience' to back them up.
It sounds like a milieu rich for drama and, occasionally, Two For The Money taps right in. Shame then that, for the most part, it's happy to skim the surface. As for the cast, McConaughey pulls off the all-American charm-by-numbers with ease, while Pacino plays a decently textured Walter, with muscular support from Rene Russo in the mostly thankless role of doting but worried wife. However, walking away with any scene he so much as brushes against is Jeremy Piven, who creates a twisted little nemesis for McConaughey as Jerry.
Trouble is, it's exactly the same "Inspired by actual events" morality play we've seen and ignored 137 times before. All you do is take a little bit of Boiler Room (cocky youngster scaling the ranks in a world of big money and bigger risks) and mate it with the likes of, say, The Recruit (grouchy older mentor figure tutors smart-arse hero, starring, um, Al Pacino). As things start to go wrong for Brandon, we're less gripped, more encouraged to sigh and tick off each plot development as it chunters along.
This isn't so much a bad film (which is a pleasant surprise coming from the man whose last stint behind the camera inflicted Taking Lives on unsuspecting cinemagoers), it just commits the crime of being rather average. You know everything you need to know from watching the trailer and will you really remember any of it once the credits start their slow crawl up the screen? Don't bet on it.