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Entertaining but very cliché.
7/10 21 is worth seeing on a restless Friday or Saturday night with friends, but it isn't anything more than that. The film features nice performances from actors Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne, as well as nice entries from the lesser known ensemble.5 years ago
However, it doesn't take a film expert to notice some of the more...awful lines. "That's is impressive software."...come on, seriously? Just bad writing.
And the flow of the plot is painfully cliche, up until the end where things are admittedly pretty unpredictable. The ending was unexpected, but it worked and made up for earlier plot points that were predictable.
"21" is entertaining, that's it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Nothing new, but it's worth the watch
6/10 21 is definitely the major film for the spring time, it has young hot actors, including an incredible academy award winner, Kevin Spacey, and another great actor who's head looks like it grew quite a bit bigger, Lawarence Fishburne. So it has all the key ingredients for a good movie, a decent plot, over all a good combination of actors, and looks like a well put together movie. So I saw it this weekend and I have to say that I was a little disappointed, I think this movie was more for the teenagers, with the actors and the rating, I think it should've been more adult. It was a typical rise and fall story with cliche'd characters. Kevin Spacey, seriously my favorite actor, he's always a dead on hit with every role he takes on, but he seemed to just sleep his way through the film and didn't really care about it. He and new and hot up-comer, Jim Sturgess were not a bad couple on screen, but were not strong enough to hold the story into something original.5 years ago
Basically we have Ben Campbell who needs $300,000 for Harvard Med. School, he's extremely gifted with numbers, so when his professor, Micky Rosa notices his gifts, he invites Ben with a group of his other students to go to Vegas and play 21. But there is a way to beat the game apparently, by counting cards. Ben promises up and down that it is just for school, but of course when he gets so hot, he takes it way further and ends up making a huge mistake and gets caught with some nasty security guards you don't wanna mess with.
Now 21 has decent enough acting, the movie itself is decent, I didn't mind at all watching it. For the most part, it's the young group of students that keep the movie interesting and keeps your attention. My main problems are for example about the characters Ben and Jill hooking up, I seriously doubt that would happen for real, but for the movie, they want these two hotties to get together at least for the teenage audience's sake. Also supposedly the group says they have to stay on the down low in Vegas so they don't get caught, yet they go around Vegas buying all these new clothes, clubbing, drinking, etc. 21 is worth the watch, but to be honest, if you're reading this, wait for the rental, it's just a regular rise and fall story.
"Winner Winner Chicken Dinner"
8/10 Slick camera work and some good performances rev up the technical quality of this fact-based story about a 21 year old MIT student named Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) who, along with his brainy Ivy League chums, travels to Vegas to win tons of money at the blackjack tables. Their sleazy math professor, Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey), leads the group. Rosa has devised an elaborate and conspiratorial card counting scheme that consists of code words and hand gestures. With all that preparation, the group's scheme does work ... for a while. And in the process, the shy, cautious Ben, who only wants the money for tuition costs, morphs into his alter ego, a person quite unlike his original self.5 years ago
The film's pace starts off leisurely, then alternates between fast-paced Vegas casino action and periods of downtime wherein Ben and his girlfriend, fellow conspirator Jill (Kate Bosworth), talk shop and take in the high life. The story does have a villain, but it may not be who you think it is.
The script's dialogue is snappy and hip, and contains minimal tech jargon. "Variable change" is one such math term, and it has thematic implications toward the end, as the story twists and turns in ways that may surprise you. And "winner winner, chicken dinner" is the group's lingo for gambling success.
Production design is realistic and lavish; this is a big budget film. Color cinematography, by DP Russell Carpenter, is polished and slick. There are lots of elaborate camera dissolves and close-ups. The best parts of the film are the close-ups of the characters at the blackjack tables. Film editing coincides with plot pacing, and ranges from slow to super fast. Acting is all-around good. Kevin Spacey gives his usual topnotch acting job; Sturgess and Bosworth also give fine performances.
It's not a perfect film. Background music was noisy and rather nondescript for my taste. And I could have wished for more card playing, and less time spent on Ben's college buddies in the first Act; the result is that the film gets off to a slow start. Still, the script is credible, and stays close to its book source "Bringing Down The House" by Ben Mezrich.
Thematically relevant in today's world of greed and materialism, "21" is a terrific film, one that has greater import than other films, because the events in "21" really happened. And the fine performances and polished visuals enhance the overall look and feel, to create a film that is both engaging and entertaining.
Not The Movie It Could Have Been
5/10 This movie was based on a true story, and if the makers had stuck closer to the true story it could have been a much better movie. But no, they had to Hollywoodize it and dumb it down so that anyone with the least knowledge of the game of blackjack and how casinos operate will be saying "No way" to themselves all through the movie. It actually ends up with a chase scene and characters running through the kitchen, for God's sake.5 years ago
In real life the team's success was 90% in being careful to not attract the attention of the casinos detectors and only 10% in their scheme, which was based on the well-known technique of card-counting to get an edge. In the movie, the team's actions were childishly crude even to the point of continually returning to the same casino...so the movie makers could develop the characters of the casino bad guys. In real life the team was careful to not win much at any one table or at any one casino, not more than $1,000 a session, which would be well within the amount any lucky player might win without counting. In the movie they hit the same table for tens of thousands of dollars, which would have set off alarms all over Nevada. Even the hand signals the team used in the movie were childishly obvious. All this by the supposedly brilliant MIT students and professor. No way.
The movie actually had the bad casino guys torturing card counters when they caught them. No way. In real life a casino has the right, tested in court, to kick anyone out and ban them from ever playing again...they do not have to prove cheating or card-counting, they do it under the laws of trespassing on their private property and this is what they do. Remember, card-counters are only making what amounts to an hourly wage, so they are not a serious threat to a casino.
Another example of the Hollywood treatment was that after showing how brilliant Ben was at counting cards when they were recruiting him, he was not used as the card counter, he was used as the big bettor and one of the female team members did the counting.
an entertaining movie for someone not knowledgeable or much interested in real life casino gambling, but dumb and dumber for those who are.
21 Leaves out Elements of the Book, Adds New Excitement
8/10 After Reading Ben Mezrich's "Bringing Down the House", upon which this movie is based, I was excited to the movie. I am usually let down by movies that are based on books, but that was not the case this time.5 years ago
Although there were a handful of cliche parts of the movie, all in all it was excellently done. The visual effects were well done, and the acting on the part of Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, and Kate Bosworth, was exemplary. Some people may criticize Spacey for his 'gusto', but I believe his portrayal of Mickey was stellar.
The movie had suspense, a solid plot line, scattered funny scenes, and a good ending. The people I went with, none of whom had read the book, found it an even better movie than I did. If you like the movie enough, I recommend reading the book for a more complete story.