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Tuesday, April 7, 2009


My father brought over two movies over the weekend. Both Kevin Spacey flicks. One was Beyond the Sea and the other 21. Both based on true stories. Both movies I wanted to check out. Today, I decided to pop in 21. The movie shows what happened to four MIT students - all Asian who learned how to count cards and won a truckload from various Vegas casinos. The real life Ben Campbell - the main character in movie - makes a cameo as an Asian dealer.

Here's the synopsis according to IMDB...

Ben Campbell is a young, highly intelligent, student at M.I.T. in Boston who strives to succeed. Wanting a scholarship to transfer to Harvard School of Medicine with the desire to become a doctor, Ben learns that he cannot afford the $300,000 for the four to five years of schooling as he comes from a poor, working-class background. But one evening, Ben is introduced by his unorthodox math professor Micky Rosa into a small but secretive club of five. Students Jill, Choi, Kianna, and Fisher, who are being trained by Professor Rosa of the skill of card counting at blackjack. Intrigued by the desire to make money, Ben joins his new friends on secret weekend trips to Las Vegas where, using their skills of code talk and hand signals, they have Ben make hundreds of thousands of dollars in winning blackjack at casino after casino. Ben only wants to make enough money for the tuition to Harvard and then back out. But as fellow card counter, Jill Taylor, predicts, Ben becomes corrupted by greed and his arrogance at winning which lets his feelings get in the way, and it also puts Professor Rosa, as well as the group, on the radar of a brutal casino security enforcer, named Cole Williams, who holds a personal grudge of some kind against Rosa which threatens to undo everything the students have learned and earned. Written by matt-282

In order to be accepted into Harvard School of Medicine, Ben Campbell 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 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.

I thought the movie was very well played out. A bit too predictable at times and had too much of that good guy against bad guy thing going on. The Bad Guy was protrayed by Lawrence Fishburne who did a believable job as a casino rent-a-cop.
The movie seemed to be too Hollywood'esque with its storyline to be based on a actual events, but they did balance non-fiction and fiction part of the movie well. You can tell which parts of the movie was made up by the studio and which parts weren't. The movie reminded me of White Man Can't Jump where I had an urge to play ball after watching it. Right after watching 21 I wanted to go to MIT and become a math wiz so I can learn to count and go to Vegas to win millions. Its inspiring but more to do wrong rather than right however the movie does have a underlying message of loyalty and respect. The little known cast did a wonderful job and cute Liza Lapira was a joy to watch. If you don't know her by name, you'll know her by face. Even Aaron Yoo as the token Asian guy was pretty funny and made me laugh in every scene. Kate Bosworth of course used her magnetic beauty to be the scene stealer while Jim Sturgess was a convincing hard working Ben Campbell.

All in all, it was a good movie if you're a fan of the fast life and of Vegas. I think you'll have be familiar with the life to Get It. If you don't live the life, then watch it for some good laughs and nice film in a long while when the nerds look cool.

I give 21 7 chips out of 10.