When I walked out of the cinema having seen 21, I remarked to myself that it was everything I expected it to be. I’m still trying to figure out whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Based on the book Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich, 21 tells the story of a young, brilliant MIT student who turns to counting cards in blackjack in Vegas with his lecturer and a group of fellow students to pay for his future in Harvard Medical School. Naturally, things turn sour, and our hero loses everything, including his friends and MIT degree and must fight to regain them.

Don’t take my opening comment the wrong way, 21 is not a bad film – it’s got a decent plot, a decent cast (Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishbourne) who do a decent job and decent direction. But it’s also not a great film, because all of those things are decent, and not much more. It does make more of an effort to have a twist in the tail than I thought it might, which surprised me, but it does feel just a little overly-long at points in the middle.

All in all, 21 is worth the watch, but suffers from the same flaw that a lot of similar films suffer from – if the card counting system is made to look simple enough that you think you could do it yourself, it loses just a little of its pizzazz. On the whole, it’s probably worth the watch, but not essential. B-.

No comments: