Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Movie Review: 21

Back in 2002 I read an article in "Wired" about a long running card counting jag in Las Vegas. Apparently some MIT students had worked out a multi person card counting system that the casinos couldn't catch. I read the article and thought it would make a great movie.

That article is available at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.09/vegas.html.

Apparently somebody wrote a book that was a fictionalized account of this story. That book was made into the movie "21". For the movie they simplified the con run in the article. They added a Kevin Spacey character as the professor and ringleader. But some of the fake names were kept from the "Wired" article.

The movie focuses on a kid at MIT who has been accepted to Harvard Med but lacks the money to attend. He's recruited for the team and agrees to join, but only until he makes the $300,000 he needs. That and the fact that there's a girl on the team that he likes. From then on the movie is rather predictable, but no less entertaining for that.

Naturally, the thrill and the money change things a bit. Parties, nice clothes, limos, etc. Eventually our main character screws up and loses a lot of money. There's a falling out. He gets busted by security. Things fall apart. Things come back together. There's an obvious and predictable twist. Another twist. And things work out for our hero in the end.

My attitude toward this movie is kind of like my attitude toward "Hitman". I wanted this to be a good movie and it is. But my desire for it to be a good movie isn't enough to make it good enough to get on DVD.

Read the article I posted above. That's the best sales pitch for the movie. If that doesn't make you say "that'd be a good movie" then don't see it.

Correction: The Wired article was also based on the book. It was embellished for the movie.

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