The Color of Money (1986)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Sports Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 17, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Matthew Doberman

The Color of Money is ostensibly a sequel to 1961's The Hustler, but with Martin Scorsese behind the camera and another young hotshot (Tom Cruise) complementing Paul Newman's aging Fast Eddie Felson, it's a far different film than the original. Cruise is well-cast as the confident, cocky newcomer; Newman would receive his first Academy Award for the haggard, world-weary shadings he added to his character. Screenwriter Richard Price recaptures the wit and verbal cadence of the original characters, and revels in the subtle, psychological hustles they pull outside of the pool halls. In the hands of a less skillful director, the mentor-student dynamic might have seemed pat, but Scorsese imbues the theme with life. As interpreted by cameraman Michael Ballhaus, the game of pool is a living, breathing character unto itself. The film's biggest drawback may be the conspicuous absence of a climactic showdown: Scorsese intentionally leaves the characters' futures ambiguous, but viewers may feel cheated by the non-resolution.