Thursday, July 24, 2008

21 (2008) Film Review

Plot Summary - Based around a true story, this film is all about Ben Campbell, a brilliant 21-year old MIT student, hoping to get a full scholarship to Harvard Med School he finds himself invited into another way to get the much needed 300K he needs to pay for his schooling - via an unscrupulous professor who runs a secret "team" of five students that go to Las Vegas every weekend to "count cards" and make themselves oodles of cash at the Blackjack tables. They use fake IDs, disguises, and an elaborate system of counting and hand signals as they go into the casinos and pretend they don't know each other, hit the tables, and rake in the bucks. Ben joins the group and is soon leading a double life - student by week, card shark by weekend - as he changes from geeky student too shy to talk to the girl he likes to card hustling young man, spending every weekend in Vegas in high-roller suites, dancing at nightclubs and even romancing that same girl (yeah, by coincidence she just happens to be one of the team members) - but he pretty much abandons his nerdy best pals and the competition project they have been working on all year.

Review - Fast-paced high rolling fun, I thought this film was quite entertaining - most of the film takes place in the bright lights of the Vegas casinos and it's fun to watch this bunch play the tables. Jim Sturgess, who plays Ben, is - gosh - simply adorable - I find that sort of very smart and very handsome, yet humble and girl shy sort of fellow he plays here *very* attractive. One of my favorites, Kevin Spacey, plays the professor and is great as usual as this man who just runs the show from the background - and takes half the cut! Okay - I did wonder why in the world Ben hides his growing pile of cash in the ceiling of his dorm room (couldn't he find some place better?), why the group of them are always hanging in the same hotel room, clubbing together, shopping together all over town (wouldn't that be sort of risky that they might be seen somewhere by one of the security guys that watches them?) - also why the girl rejects his kiss in one scene and a very short time later is practically giving him a lap dance while they're all living it up in this Vegas strip club. In spite of these few flaws, I thought this was pretty good. Rating - 8 stars

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