Friday, July 25, 2008



Year: 2008
Director: Robert Luketic
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Yoo
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

21 was released in late March of this year and it was a good success. The film that was made for only $35 million grossed over $155 million worldwide at the box office. It easily passed its budget and went on to become one of the sleeper hits of this year. I personally didn't care much about the movie when it was in theaters. The trailers I saw for the movie looked alright, but nothing that made me jump up in excitement. So I decided that Id just wait for the DVD instead of paying $10 bucks for a movie that I'm not really interested in.

Plot Outline:
Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a shy, but brilliant MIT student who wants to enroll at Harvard Medical School once he graduates. He only has to come up with $300,000 for tuition. His math professor, Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey), recognizes his genius for numbers and invites him to join his special "math club," a group of fellow students who make weekly trips to Las Vegas to beat the casinos by counting cards at blackjack. The Vegas lifestyle soon seduces Ben and so does his sexy teammate Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth). Cautiously watching all of this is Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne) the casino's security chief who is trying to figure out why the weekly kid never tends to lose a hand.

The story is based on the book "Bringing Down the House" by Ben Mezrich. Having not read the book, I cant comment on how close the movie stays faithful the book. The actual story for the movie is somewhat of a mixed bag. The film would have been totally boring if it was just counting cards the whole time so luckily it isn't. The writers tried to add in some type of story so it isn't just counting cards the whole time. This makes the movie less boring and something to actually look forward too, but it doesn't really click. The film ends up being longer than it should be and feels somewhat stretched out. The plot also tends to get repetitive with things happening over again and again. The story is also pretty much straight forward and can be predictable from time to time. I don't think the book had enough material to make a movie out of it. With that said, 21 can still be pretty fun. It has enough suspense to keep you entertained and doesn't go off track. Watching the characters count cards for the first few times is pretty cool. The story also starts off interesting with the main character being introduced to counting cards.

The cast for 21 is pretty solid. Jim Sturgess plays as Ben Campbell and he does a pretty good job here. I think he was good for the part and I really enjoyed his work here. I did however think that he was bad at being excited when he won each time. Kevin Spacey plays as Prof. Micky Rosa and he too does a good job here. I enjoyed his performance and thought he was very much suitable for this character even though he doesn't have too much screen time. Kate Bosworth plays as Jill Taylor and shes pretty average here. I didn't think she was giving it her best and I thought she was rather flat at times. I think someone else could have easily replaced her for this role. Laurence Fishburne plays as Cole Williams and hes as great as ever. I thought he fit the shoes for this character and really had me convinced he was this evil guy trying to stop the people who count cards. Just like Spacey, Fishburne doesn't have alot of screen time so basically hes just in the background.

The visual look of 21 is really great. You wouldn't expect a card game movie like this to feature any CGI and yet it does. The movie has many close up shots of chips moving and these are all CGI. They look pretty good as far as special effects, but too much CGI is really unnecessary for a movie like this. I couldn't detect any film grain which shouldn't come as a surprise considering the film was just released a couple months ago. Colors look bold and vibrant at times. This isn't a colorful film, but it does contain some nice colors especially when their playing in the casinos. Detail is pretty strong and the movie tends to look really great. Close up shots reveal a whole lot of detail on the cast members. The slot machines and card tables all look nicely detailed.

The soundtrack in 21 is also very good. The score is composed by newcomer David Sardy and he does a nice job here. His score feels relatively right for a movie like this and its very much used effectively. We also get many other music in the film from various artists. These music all sound great and go well with whats being shown on the screen. I enjoyed listening to each and every one of them. You wouldn't expect a whole lot in terms of bass for a movie like this and yet it surprised me. The film features some good bass work that goes well with the films soundtrack. It isn't as aggressive like the one in Doomsday, but it perfectly fits the films mood. This is a solid soundtrack.

21 has an interesting concept and one that is pretty cool to see. The film is based on a book that I don't think has enough material to make it into a full length movie. The story although entertaining can be pretty predictable and repetitive. The cast is mostly solid with many of them giving good performances. The visual look of the film is great and features some good amount of detail. The soundtrack is full of various songs from many different people and they all sound wonderful. 21 is worth watching if your into card type movies because it can be fun at times. As for everyone else, Id give it a good rent.

Grade: C


Jaccstev said...

Thank you Farzan for the helpful review. I also haven't seen this film yet but after many comments I've read about it, I think that I should purchase or rent the DVD and watch it myself.

Micky said...

i saw this yesterday and your review is spot on. nice work farzan

David Bishop said...

I wanted to see this when it came out in theaters, but I never got around to it. I'm actually a mathematician, so I thought it might be fun. Plus, I was still 'high' after Across the Universe and though it might be fun to see Jim Sturges in another movie.

Bosworth and Spacey were also in Superman Returns together, as Lois Lane and Lex Luthor respectively. I love weird coincidences like that.

Speaking of, do you think the Superman Universe might use the letter 'L' too much? Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Lucy Lane, Lana Lang. If you include the show Smallville, you can throw in Lionel Luthor. Geez!

Farzan said...

lol, yeah that is funny. Alot of L in the Superman universe