Fans of the classic TV show Maverick remember the show for its larger than life characters, the adventures, and the poker. In 1994, producers decided to bring the classic TV show to the big screen and Maverick was born. This time around, Mel Gibson plays Bret Maverick. It’s here we see Mad Mel prior to being so, well, mad and in a role perfectly suited to the charismatic acting style that made him a household name.
The story centers around Maverick’s adventures as he tries to raise a $25,000 to play in the largest Five Card Poker tournament of all time. Along the way, he meets Annabelle Bransford, played by Jody Foster. Annabelle is a sharp gambler in her own right and proves to be almost more than Bret can handle. In addition, they meet Marshall Zane Cooper, played by James Garner who played Maverick in the TV series.
Maverick eventually raises the needed buy-in despite numerous mishap adventures and an ominous gambler named Angel who is supposed to stop Maverick, but fails. Maverick not only plays the tournament, but ultimately makes the final table and the final three facing Angel and Commodore Duvall, played by James Coburn. Duvall is the tournament organizer and the owner of the riverboat the tournament is played on.
In the final hand of the poker tournament, Maverick asks for a new deal, cut, and shuffle after getting his cards, insinuating that something is amiss in the dealing. After finding out that all he can get is a new dealer, he asks Angel to give him one card. At this point, all three players have moved all-in and the winner of this hand will determine the champion. Duvall shows four eights, and it seems he has won the game. Angel then shocks everyone as he lays down a straight flush. Maverick then lays down the ten of spades, the jack of spades, the queen of spades, and the king of spades for a possible Royal Flush. He then slowly looks at his card and exhales like he missed his needed card. The then throws the card into the middle to show the ace of spade for the Royal. Angel then accuses him of cheating and tries to draw on him, but the Marshall and Maverick gun down Angel and his lackeys.
That’s one of the reasons they call him Maverick but you can’t end the movie on a high note like that, not at all. This is a Richard Donner pic after all and there’s a good amount of chuckles and memorable endearing characters who’ve just gotten warmed up. There are still numerous plot twists left first of which begin with the money being stolen by the Marshall. Later it is discovered that the Marshall and Duvall were working together to steal the money. However, instead of splitting the money, he double crosses Duvall and leaves.
Later, the Marshall is sitting in a tub getting a bath when Maverick sneaks up behind him. Like Yogi Bear getting a drop on the Ranger Maverick proves time and time again that he’s smarter than the average card shark. But just as it seems that he is going to shoot the Marshall, you find out that the Marshall is actually Maverick’s father…and there’s the Richard Donner touch. All along, it was Maverick and his father working together to ensure that the Commodore would be exposed as a crook.
Maverick is a movie that lives up to the spirit and fun of the original series, something that many movies made from TV shows have failed to do. Richard Donner brings a lot to the film and pulls fantastically charming performances out of the entire cast. This may be Mel’s movie but Jodie Foster is just magnetic. Looking back again it seems I had forgotten this also starred Doctor Otto Octavus himself Alfred Molina. Such a great time going back to this VHS era title, Maverick is a fun western tale with timeless characters and a must see movie.