Math Students Are Cool But Devious in ’21’

Chabeli Sanchez

In the movie “21” directed by Robert Luketic, (based on the book- “Bringing Down the House” by Ben Mezrich), there is only one thing holding Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) back from attending Harvard medical school: the $300,000 he needs to pay for it.

But when one of his math professors, Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey), presents Campbell with the opportunity to make big bucks “beating the dealer” at blackjack, his fate begins to change.

With the help of his team, Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), Choi (Aaron Yoo), Kianna (Liza Lapira) and Fisher (Jacob Pitts), Campbell makes thousands of dollars. However, when Campbell and his team run into the head of hotel security, Cole Williams, played by Laurence Fishburne, it becomes a whole new game. A game that Campbell and his team are not quite ready for.

The movie does a great job telling the real life story in which the movie is based: the tale of a team of MIT students who devised a card counting scheme to win millions from Las Vegas casinos. The students got caught, and were never to allowed to play in Vegas again.

Luketic, who has directed “Legally Blonde,” “Monster-In-Law” and “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton,” strayed away from his usual teenybopper style and added drama to his repertoire with “21.”.

We met Sturgess last year in “Across the Universe,” in which he played Jude. The English actor also played a role in “The Other Boleyn Girl.” The role he plays in “21” is quite different than his previous projects. He plays Campbell extremely well, giving the audience a chance to see every side of Campbell, whether it be loving, caring, responsible, loyal, intimidated, scared or angry. Sturgess gives a sense of rawness to his character. There is no doubt that Sturgess has a bright future in cinema.

Two-time Oscar winner, Kevin Spacey (Rosa) has yet to disappoint. He delivers another amazing performance in “21.” The twists and turns Spacey gives to the Rosa character are highly suspenseful and are guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. He gives Micky Rosa a dark and evil side, making despicable by the end of the movie.

Las Vegas comes to life in “21.” Its glitz and glitter is captured in every scene. Gambling all night and partying all day, Sin City takes its toll on some and leaves others winners.

The film arrived in theaters nationwide on March 28.

Produced by Michael De Luca, screenplay by Peter Steinfeld and Allan Loeb, the film is co-produced by William S. Beasley, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Ryan Kavanaugh, Brett Ratner and Kevin Spacey. Original music is by David Sardy. Cinematography is by Russell Carpenter. It is edited by Elliot Graham.

Running time: 123 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content with partial nudity.

Cast: Jim Sturgess (Ben Campbell), Kevin Spacey (Micky Rosa), Kate Bosworth (Jill Taylor), Aaron Yoo (Choi), Liza Lapira (Kianna), Jacob Pitts (Fisher), Laurence Fishburne (Cole Williams), Jack McGee (Terry), Josh Gad (Miles Connoly), Sam Golzari (Cam), Helen Carey (Ellen Campbell), Jack Gilpin (Bob Phillips).

“21” receives this rating due to it’s great cinematography. However, the plot could have moved along at a more rapid pace.

3 stars out of 4