By Tyler Gilliam
Director Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde, Win A Date With Tad Hamilton, Monster-in-Law) finally made a movie my girlfriend didn’t have to drag me by my ears to see. 21 is a story about six MIT students who learn to count cards and make a fortune playing blackjack in Las Vegas casinos.The film is based off Ben Mezrich’s best-selling novel Bringing Down the House. The name of the film was changed so as not to confuse this movie with that prize starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah from 2003.
21 follows MIT senior and mathematical genius Ben Campbell, played by Jim Sturgess (Across The Universe, The Other Boleyn Girl). Ben gave up having a life in favor of pursuing excellence in education. He has a 4.0 at MIT and his sights set on Harvard Medical School. There is one problem, however: Harvard comes with a $300,000 bill.
In nonlinear equations class Ben awes his professor, Mickey Rosa, played by Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey (Superman Returns, The Usual Suspects), who also happens to lead an elite team of card-counting blackjack connoisseurs.
Though Ben rejects his professor’s initial attempts to get him to join the team, he, like so many others, is convinced to join by a pretty girl, played by Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns, Blue Crush, Win A Date With Tad Hamilton). This one happens to be a rocket scientist named Jill Taylor, not to be confused with the Jill Taylor from TV’s Home Improvement.
Ben and Jill, along with kleptomaniac Choi, played by Aaron Yoo (Disturbia) and three others, take Vegas by storm. Using simple math, the team can keep count and effectively beat the casinos at their own game. Interestingly enough, card counting isn’t illegal; however, it is frowned upon by some big, mean casino guys.
But don’t get any ideas because the MIT Blackjack Team pulled it off 15 years ago. Identification software has almost killed any chance of becoming a regular card counter- along with the fact that a quick shuffle of the deck completely ruins the count.
But all is going well for our card-counting team until they are spotted by Cole Williams, played by Academy Award-nominated Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), an old school hard-hitting casino security agent. He’s quick to shuffle the team and ready to shut them down with an iron fist.
It’s also interesting to note that the film, which largely took place on MIT’s campus, was not at all filmed at MIT. Most of the collegiate scenes were shot at Boston University.
The film is well acted. I watched two movies this week that both happened to star Jim Sturgess. He’s a talented English actor, and did a great job playing an American college student. Fishburne and Spacey are always enjoyable, and Kate Bosworth was the best I’ve ever seen her. I look forward to seeing this brown and blue-eyed beauty in more films.
21 topped the box office over the weekend earning $23.7 million, and if you haven’t seen this one yet, don’t miss out.