Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Yoo, Kieu Chinh, Liza Lapira, Jacob Pitts, Jack McGee, Josh Gad, Sam Golzari, Helen Carey, Jack Gilpin, Spencer Garrett, Jeff Ma, Kris Williams
In order to be accepted into Harvard School of Medicine, Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) will have to save $300,000 for the course. Only problem about this is the Ben can't get this amount of money. After being impressed by his skills in his Math's lesson, Prof. Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) invites Ben to become a member of a small group; a group who are planning to walk out of Vegas with millions, thanks to Ben's card counting.
Filmmakers love casinos. Probably because casinos always have some kind of charm. Robert Luketic is no different than others, and brought to the table "21", an entertaining, but very clichéd gambling/heist film.
So the film is based on Ben Mezrich's "Bringing Down the House", and it's my understanding it is inspired by a true story. Let me start by saying that I did not read the book, and I am not familiar with this particular story. That being said, the story is decent but very clichéd up until the end where things are very unpredictable, and the ending is really unexpected. And that kind of makes up for earlier plot points.
The film is well paced, and gracefully alternates between fast-paced Vegas casino action and slower moments wherein the group plan the heist. But two hours are a lot of time, and filling some of that time with that half-baked love story, and Ben taking in the high life is a waste.
The performances could have been better. Kevin Spacey, seriously my favourite actor and the reason I watched this film, and Laurence Fishburne give routine performances as if they didn't care much for the film. They are not bad, they just seem careless. Jim Sturgess is decent as Ben, the leading mathematical genius, but he doesn't quite manage to pull off the various emotional shadings required. And Kate Bosworth contributes with her typical flat performance as the love interest.