This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Peter Labuza’s review published on Letterboxd :
This review may contain spoilers.
Allow a md'a-style deconstruction of the plot here, because the last fifteen minutes of nagged the hell out of me, even as good as they were. It simply comes down to: Johnny is made for the first 75 minutes to be the perfect professional, yet he makes a number of ridiculous mistakes that don't make sense for him and break his character. I'll buy the moment where Johnny enters the wrong door at the motel since he's running late, but he perfectly reverts back into perfection mode when Elisha Cook Jr shows up, and he barely takes a second to pause before heading on his way. Now when he notices the bag is broken, why doesn't he buy a new bag? Or why buy from a cheap place when you have $2 million in the back of your car? Yes he's on a timer with approximately now 75 minutes before his plane leaves, but why let a detail like that slip? Everything about the character suggests perfection, not greed. So this leads to my biggest problem: checking the bag. Obviously Johnny was planning on bringing a smaller bag, but he also seems like the person that would scope out these details instead of just rushing into them. He should have known he'd have to check the bag, no? It seems out of character for him to be caught by surprise by something like that because the main detail we're given about him is that he's a perfectionist.
I'll take that all of course and still call this pretty much a delight from start to finish because even those last 15 minutes are full of great moments, and probably one of my favorite shots in Kubrick (the money swirling in the wind). Also: Probably Cook's best performance, his scenes with the equally strong Marie Windsor are wonderful ping pong matches. And in terms of the auteurist stamp, it's got its noir structure and moments, but its center chess match (which Kubrick nods to his obsession with the scene at the gaming room*) is all his own style.
*A fun detail: Scrabble is 5 cents cheaper than chess or checkers, except after 6pm. I'm infering Kubrick just followed whatever was standard at those places, which made me think these places priced based on the idea that all the intellectuals that would go to those places would be working from 9-5, or something like that.