The film follows an MIT student, Ben (Jim Sturgess) who is trying to find a way to get enough money to go to Harvard Med School and has no where to turn. When one of his professors, Prof. Rosa (Kevin Spacey), notices his intelligence abilities in class he recruits him for group of students who count cards as a team and make money playing black jack on the weekends. Ben reluctantly joins but can’t resist the rush and earnings he is able to acquire from his talents. As he falls deeper into the game the risks get higher as both the Professor and a casino security advisor (Lawrence Fishburne) eventually take a problem to his antics in
I won’t spoil any more of the plot for those of you that still dare to see this, but there isn’t that much to look forward to in this picture. The acting is borderline bad to terrible throughout, with all of the supporting no names turning in terrible work. Special god awfulness award would go to the fat, nerdy friend played by some guy I hope I never see again as I literally almost felt like throwing a remote through the TV every time he came on screen; that or drill a hole in my head both would be more entertaining then watching him act.
The good actors in the film do admirable jobs with the horrendous script that they were
given filled with terrible dialogue and next to no elements of originality. Kevin Spacey does nothing new or special as the professor and doesn’t even come across as that conniving of evil when he has to. Lawrence Fishburne does a good job of being menacing but again doesn’t really have that much to work with in the film and is pretty much a one trick pony through out. Jim Sturgess is just a bit wooden and unbelievable as some suave card player, and might have been cast a bit to baby faced for the part. Also, he uses about three accents through out depending on the scene, sometimes he sounds a bit Bostonian, sometimes generic American, and sometimes his original English accent roles off his tongue, someone should have noticed this. Kate Bosworth probably does the best work as the stereotypical damsel in the film and makes the most out of what she is given; and looks pretty, which is half the part in the first place.
The movie overall fails because it is so damn bland and predictable. My fellow viewers were either calling out the next plot turn 20 minutes in advance, groaning at the atrocious dialogue, or waking up from their boredom induced slumber from the film and yelling, “How is this film not over yet?!” And on that note, the film drags. There is no pacing what so ever and the movie just drags on and on for no real reason at all. They needed to trim this film up quite a bit, but the pacing issues aren’t what made this film terrible.
In the end, 21 is a boring, dragging, under acted, and predictable mess of a film. I didn’t laugh or enjoy the film pretty much at all. The director did a couple cool things with the camera, but that is about it, other wise he failed at pretty much everything else he was going for with this film. Throw all of this with the fact that the film is apparently only faithful to the book in the fact that they are both about an MIT student who counts cards and sensationalize the rest of the film. All in all a major failure from start to finish and one of the most painful film going experiences I have had in a while.