Peter Steinfeld

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21 Review


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With the ongoing popularity of high stakes poker, greenlighting a film like 21 would appear to be a Tinseltown no-brainer. After all, you've got the true story of how a group of MIT students broke the bank in Vegas by applying their highly trained analytical minds toward counting cards, beating Sin City's blackjack tables in the process. It's a mega-dose of Mensa wish fulfillment. But leave it to Hollywood to fiddle with the facts. Ben Mezrich's non-fiction book entitled Bringing Down the House centered on a group of mostly Asian geniuses grifting casinos for all the cash they could. Somehow, that translated into a cast consisting of Kevin Spacey, Jim Sturgess, and Kate Bosworth.

When Ben Campbell (Sturgess) learns that Harvard Medical School will cost $300,000 for tuition, room, and board, he sees no possible way of paying the bill. While studying one night, he is approached by Jason Fisher (Jacob Pitts) who invites him into the secret world of Professor Micky Rosa's (Spacey) card-counting club. With an elaborate system of formulas, buzzwords, and signals, Rosa and his students have been hitting Las Vegas on weekends and winning big. They now want Ben to join their clandestine cabal. At first, he says no. But thanks to the seductive sway of juicy Jill Taylor (Bosworth), Ben acquiesces. Soon, he is leading the group toward untold riches -- and the investigative glare of casino security agent Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne).

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