The Luck of the Draw

Amy Julian

Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at Jim Sturgess again without picturing him galloping around to Beatles songs and painting. Thus, when I heard that he was starring in a new movie, I was scared that innocent, awkward, romantic Jude (Sturgess’ role in Across the Universe) would be forever tainted. In the new high rolling, action-packed flick, 21, Sturgess plays MIT brainiac Ben who, upon getting accepted to Harvard Medical School, realizes that the $300,000 tuition isn’t gonna come easy. Working at J. Crew, Ben gets recruited by a team of fellow nerds, led by smarmy yet brilliant Professor Rosa (Kevin Spacey), who count cards at blackjack tables in Vegas on the weekends. I never fully understood the whole concept of counting cards, yet 21 gives a surprisingly fathomable explanation on the technique and strategy.

Don’t hop on a plane to Vegas yet, though. With all seemingly promising endeavors comes the inevitable crackdown. Head security officer Cole William (played by Laurence Fishburne) catches wind of the scam and begins to set up a sting to catch the card-counting culprits. Predictably, lots of running ensues, and with the slight of hand, the team begins to crumble.

Among the drama and edge-of-your-seat action that 21 provides is a deeper story of human nature: money is the root of all evil. Ben provides much evidence of this as he begins to turn on love interest and fellow teammate Jill Taylor (played by a flat and bored Kate Bosworth). Sturgess and Bosworth seem to lack the chemistry that would otherwise provide for some steamy and gratifying love scenes. Instead, it seems contrived and, well, poorly acted. The plot is predictable and overall, 21 seems like a rich-kid spin-off of the Oceans Eleven series, lacking the humor and the elaborate schemes. It’s hard to feel bad for privileged, gorgeous, rich kids who are trying to scam the system in Vegas.

21 is based loosely (and I emphasize loosely) on the best-selling memoir of MIT genius Ben Mezrich, “Bringing Down the House.” The scenes were showy and elaborate and very aesthetically friendly. But amid the feathers and lights and sparkles laid a predictable story line where the good guy turns bad and then realizes the error of his ways. Save your money and wait until it comes out on Redbox-as it’s worth the $1.00 a night, but hardly worth the $11.00 bucks at your local theater.