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21 (2008)
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Review Date: June 05, 2008
Director: Robert Luketic
Writer: Peter Steinfeld, Allan Loeb
Producers: Dana Brunetti, Michael Deluca, Kevin Spacey
Actors:
Jim Sturgess as Ben
Kate Bosworth as Jill
Kevin Spacey as Micky
Plot:
An extremely intelligent young man gets accepted into Harvard Medical School, but doesn’t have enough money to pay for it (that would be 300 large, thank you very much). Since working for $8/hour isn’t cutting it for the brainiac, he gets pulled into a blackjack card scheme, spearheaded by one of his teachers and completed by four other students, two of whom are Asian, one of whom is a jerk and the last of whom is a total hottie! Personally…I prefer poker.
Critique:
A cliché-ridden ride through the world of blackjack via the innocent eyes of a young upstart from Boston to whom some of us should relate…being as he “needs money” to “follow his dreams”. As per every other movie of its ilk, the dude doesn’t want to partake in the good times/good money at first, ultimately comes to the decision to partake later on, starts to enjoy the money and the good times, gets in over his head, reality kicks in and well, the rest as they say…is a cliché-ridden motion picture. That said, I was never really bored throughout the movie, enjoyed the acting performances given by most of the players, especially Spacey eating it up and Fishburne kicking some butt, and ultimately can’t say that it was a “bad movie” per se, although certainly not one that I would go out of my way to recommend to many people. It’s basically an “okay” flick with some neat insight into “card counting” (if you can understand any of it, that is), some manufactured moments of action/suspense (and even then, just a couple), and a handful of scenes featuring the gang having themselves a fuckin’ blast in Las Vegas. If you’re looking for a grittier, more interesting card movie, you’re better off renting ROUNDERS and trying to decipher that jargon and those good/bad times (Malkovich’s over-the-top performance as the Russian gambler alone is worthy of a rental).

In this film, Jim Sturgess does a good job of playing the “innocent boy” who gets caught up in the gray zone of “counting cards” while playing 21, but also gets caught up in a tizzy of clichés all the way from him falling for a girl in the group, to suddenly turning into another person, dropping his old friends and acting like a hot shit, and then ultimately getting smacked back to reality by even more clichés. Some of the fun in watching this film with my brother was being able to pick off the plot “twists”, and needless to say, we got most of them. In fact, without the big names or 2-3 chase/punching scenes, this could easily have been a TV movie of the week, especially when you consider that it’s apparently based on a true story (although I’d love to see what poetic license the filmmakers took with the actual events from this true tale). All in all, I don’t see this movie blowing anyone’s wig off their bald head, but at the same time, it’s definitely an easy flick to rent and watch on a Saturday night, especially if you have an interest in cards, Vegas and Kate Bosworth (who’s “okay” in the movie, but does look damn good!). Other than that, nothing memorable here, folks.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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