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One Last Ride (Unrated)

Release Date: April 7th, 2006 (Montclair, NJ- Wellmont Theatre) by Allumination Filmworks.
The Cast: Patrick Cupo, Robert Davi, Anita Barone, Jack Carter, Joe Marinelli, Mario Roccuzzo, Tracey Walter, Tony Lee, Lana Parrilla, Candince Azzaria, Charles Durning, Annie Abbott, Claire Kupchak, Chazz Palminteri.
Directed by Tony Vitale.

BASIC PREMISE: Michael (Cupo), a compulsive gambler, gets into serious trouble when he owes thousands of dollars to a tough loan shark, Tweat (Palminteri).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: In the opening scenes, Michael loses all of his income in a single bet during a horse-race. He has very little time to come up with $41,000 to pay a loan shark for his gambling debts. One Last Ride is incredibly suspenseful because Michael has a lot at stake including his beautiful, pregnant wife Gina (Barone), who thinks his gambling problems are over, as well as a decent-paying job as a salesman and, obviously, his own life. Soon enough, his boss fires him for stealing from the company and Gina threatens to leave him forever. Unlike the fast-paced, inventive Run Lola Run which also involves a debt that must be paid quickly, One Last Ride is more character-driven and much less gimmicky. Patrick Cupo gives a convincing performance as Michael, who remains likable as a character even though he must lie, cheat and steal in order to try getting out of his huge debt. Like in Shakespeareís Macbeth, his conscience haunts him day by day: he has visions of his father (Davi) who warns him not to take the wrong path like he did. It would have been more effective if Tweat, the loan shark, would have shown up more often to physically threaten himórather than just shoot at his car tires. Treatís brief scenes seem a bit contrived, although Palminteri does make for an excellent bad guy. Nonetheless, the screenplay by Patrick Cupo does have enough subtle, realistic surprises in the third act that donít insult your intelligence. Itís also quite refreshing that director Tony Vitalo doesnít resort to excessive violence as a means of entertaining.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Gambling addiction, or any addiction for that matter, is clearly unhealthy in many ways: financially, physically, socially and, above all, psychologically. When Michael reaches rock bottom in his life, he acknowledges his gambling addiction, which is the first step toward getting cured from it. He definitely owes an apology to everyone around him for his destructive behavior, especially to his wife who loves him but canít stand all of his deceptions and lies. His best friend (Marinelli) also gets dragged along and puts his life on the line for him. The ultimate message is that thereís always some hope for those with addiction problems. Hopefully, Michael will be able to learn from his mistakes and be a good role model for his new child.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough scenes with Chazz Palminteri.


IN A NUTSHELL: A winner! Thoroughly engrossing and suspenseful!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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