You can't write off Richard Gere.

Just when you think he's oh-so-80s, along comes the double whammy of Internal Affairs and Pretty Woman. Just when you think he's washed up along with the 20th century, he wins a Golden Globe for Chicago. And, since then, there has always been The Hoax to balance out Bee Season, the risks of doing I'm Not There to make up for a stinker like Nights In Rodanthe.

Now, seemingly out of nowhere, comes Arbitrage, the film that gained Gere another Golden Globe nomination a month ago. And while its title might be a little off-putting – we all know a few more business terms now than we did prior to 2007, but that's no reason to assume they'll put bums on seats – this really is the Richard Gere Show, so much so that even an actress as classy as Susan Sarandon is willing to stand back and let the man himself take centre stage.

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It's all a bit Wall Street by way of Bonfire Of The Vanities, as billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Miller (Gere) is brought down in classical style by his own hubris. The time is now, greed is no longer good, and the kind of "rob Peter to pay Paul" cooking of the company books that might once have been the sign of a swashbuckling hero of the corporate boardroom now reeks of desperation. And yet this is what Miller must do to sell off his business for a massive illegal profit.

With wrinkles on his brow but not on his suit, Gere is perfect as the hypocrite du jour, the lying face of capitalism who shows no sign of moral backbone at home, work or play. He's willing to treat everyone as commodities – his daughter, his mistress, a dignified young black man, the son of a former friend – in order to pull off this final deal.

Throughout it all, the actor gives us a glimpse of a Forbes cover star now falling apart at the seams, and yet there's still a flicker of that Gere charm to sweeten the character's poison. It's his most complete performance in years.

A word of praise, too, for Tim Roth, who plays the police detective investigating a suspicious death in which Miller is involved. As rumpled and insolent as Gere is suave and polite on the surface, he sets his insouciant body language at the opposite end of the spectrum from the movie's star. Their scenes together contain an ounce of indulgence but it's great fun to watch them bounce off each other.

Alan Morrison