Review of “21″ (2008) PG-13 123min
March 28th, 2008 by Maxim · 1 Comment · 9,514 Views
The plot: (from IMDb) Inspired by the true story (based on “Bringing Down The House” book by Ben Mezrich) of how some of the very brightest young minds in the country took Vegas for millions, 21 stars Jim Sturgess as Ben Campbell, a brilliant M.I.T. student who desperately needs to pay his school tuition. Thanks to unorthodox math professor Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey) and seductive fellow student Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), Ben is recruited to join a group of the school’s most gifted students, ones who travel to Vegas every weekend armed with fake identities, the ability to count cards, and an intricate system of signals. But as they push the limits to beat the casinos, the challenge also entails staying ahead of the casinos’ menacing enforcer (Laurence Fishburne).
The good: This movie is based on true story – that’s always a plus for me. It’s got a very likable young crew. Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne have heavy presence in the movie. Nice stylish music to set the mood. Cool twist in the end. The thrill, of course, in movies like this is about waiting whether they will get caught and how long and how many times can they get away with it. Jim Sturgess gave great performance – he was also great in The Other Boleyn Girl and that last year’s musical based on Beatles’ songs, Across The Universe. Nice visuals and cinematography. The audience in the theater was clearly satisfied, people were leaving with the smile on their faces and talking about the movie with excitement.
The bad: Some holes in the plot. Human relationships were oversimplified and perhaps even dumbed down to target this movie to 13-22 age category, with some scenes designed to extract laughter and woos. Too much time spent explaining how their signal and card counting scheme worked.
Similar movies: Ocean’s 11 (the comparison is not exactly fare – one was a heist movie with comedy involving professionals, but this movie is about kids – different style), Confidence.
The summary: Very likable movie based on real events with plenty of suspense and thrill. It will probably spur new interest in books describing card counting techniques.
The credits: Director – Robert Luketic (Monster In Law, Legally Blonde), Writer – Peter Steinfeld (Analyze That) & Allan Loeb (Things We Lost In The Fire) | Ben Campbell – Jim Sturgess, Mickey Rosa – Kevin Spacey, Jill Taylor – Kate Bosworth, Choi – Aaron Yoo, Kianna – Liza Lapira, Fisher – Jacob Pitts, Cole Williams – Laurence Fishburne, Terry – Jeff McGee, Cam – Sam Golzari | Producers: William S. Beasley, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Ryan Kavanaugh, Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey | Musical Score – David Sardy | Cinematography – Russell Carpenter | Columbia Pictures
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