NBC may have hit the jackpot with “MacShayne: Winner Takes All,” thanks largely to the affable — albeit limited — Kenny Rogers, who plays MacShayne, ex-con/gambler turned casino security chief. Though neither Vegas as a setting nor the reformed bad-guy character is novel, Rogers has a good screen presence that compensates for his somewhat limited acting skills.
Of course, MacShayne’s not really a bad guy, just someone who got into a little trouble. Once he’s sprung, he goes to a Las Vegas hotel looking for his ex-wife. A computer “error” has him listed as high roller, and MacShayne lives — and gambles — it up at the unnamed hotel’s expense.
Seems the computer glitch was part of a rather arcane plot masterminded by ex-cop Danny Leggett (Terry O’Quinn), who’s planning on ripping off the hotel’s casino. Tired of living on a cop’s pension, Leggett tries to recruit three other ex-cops into his scheme. Two go along; a third, Andy Capasso (Barry Newman), holds out. Ann Jillian, playing a small-time scam artist, gets caught up in the action.
Michael Gleason’s complicated plot is occasionally far-fetched and requires more attention than people may want to give on a Friday night, but the movie is still fun. Suffice it to say that MacShayne triumphs and the hotel, to show its gratitude, makes MacShayne security chief, setting the stage for more MacShayne movies.
Hardest plot device to make sense of is the relationship between Miranda (Jillian) and MacShayne. It looks like romance is brewing, but she then goes and marries her scam partner. Go figure.
E.W. Swackhamer’s direction is right on the money, getting just enough out of the actors without going overboard, a real temptation here. Billy Dickson’s camerawork is good, showing off Vegas well, both day and night, and there’s some great desert scenery. Kudos to all for the minimal violence; there’s nary a car chase.
O’Quinn does a good job as the inscrutable Leggett, and Newman is also fine as the holdout cop. Jillian, looking terrific, does a good turn as a hustler with a heart of gold.