Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

07 September 2008

21, dir. Robert Luketic (2008)

STEVE says:
So far this year we've had no luck with poker-cheat movies. From Lucky You to Shade, they've been boring, lame, and predictable. I don't know why we'd think a movie about blackjack cheats would be any different, but for some reason we did, and it wasn't, and we're the wiser for it. Or so we tell ourselves. It makes it easier to get through the day.

Our young hero, Ben Campbell (played by Jim Sturgess, who is so boring I was convinced he was actually Tobey Maguire) is interviewing to get into Harvard Med. While most kids grow up wanting to be cops or astronauts or something, Ben's dream as a kid was to grow up and go to Harvard. So he's not exactly career oriented. He wanted to grow up and go to school. The dean, nice guy, lets him down easy, tells him that many kids have the desire to go to Harvard, but what he's looking for is "dazzle".

That point right there, the "dazzle" bit, is where the movie let itself down. It tries to dazzle us with glitzy shots of Vegas and clever card-cheats, fails to offer anything other than the standard Vegas card-cheat story.

Ben gets involved in a card-counting ring, run by his math professor, Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey doing Kevin Spacey), because he needs $300,000 to pay for Harvard in case he doesn't get the free ride he's banking on. Under Spacey's wing, Ben starts winning a lot of money, squirreling it away above the ceiling in his dorm. "We don't gamble," Spacey tells him. "We count cards." Of course Ben gets caught up in the lifestyle and starts gambling, loses it all, gets Spacey pissed at him, Laurence Fishburne out to kill him, he turns his back on his nerdy friends, but it all comes out okay in the end when Ben gets the free ride to Harvard based solely on the "dazzle" inherent in the standard card-cheat story we just watched.

Using Mr. Blonde's theory of deduction ("Either they're dead, or they're not, or the cops got 'em, or they don't."), this movie was about as easy to read as the instructions on a shampoo bottle; you don't bother reading them because how many times do you have to read "wash, rinse, repeat" before the outcome becomes inevitable.

21 reckons it's doing something different, but it's not. I've seen Vegas, and I've seen card-cheats. What else y'got?


No comments: