21 (12A)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarNo StarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner10/04/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 118 mins

Disappointing thriller that's let down by a tedious script, a frankly ridiculous final act and some dodgy overacting by Kevin Spacey.

What's it all about?
Loosely based on a true story, 21 stars Jim Sturgess as Ben Campbell, a brainy MIT student trying to come up with the tuition fees for a place at Harvard Med School. Then his unconventional maths professor, Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) asks him to join a secret group of whizz-kids who spend their weekends in Las Vegas counting cards and making big bucks at blackjack.

Initially, Ben is reluctant to join the team, but he's tempted by campus hottie and fellow whizz-kid Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), so he signs up, intending to make just enough to pay for his tuition fees and then get out. However, the Vegas lifestyle starts to go to his head and soon he's bitten by the gambling bug and hooking up with Jill, ignoring his geeky, robot-building best friends (Josh Gad, Sam Golzari) in the process.

The Good
Sturgess makes a likeable lead and even Kate Bosworth is less annoying here than she has been elsewhere. There's also strong support from Aaron Yoo (Disturbia) and Lisa Lapira as Ben's fellow teammates, both of whom manage to create memorable characters from largely underwritten roles.

The Bad
However, the low-key, decent performances are heavily overshadowed by a seriously dodgy piece of overacting by Kevin Spacey, while Laurence Fishburne is saddled with a thankless role as a casino security expert and looks thoroughly bored throughout. Similarly, director Robert Luketic struggles to make blackjack exciting on screen, so the gambling scenes lack tension.

However, the film's biggest problem is a tedious script that veers from vomit-worthy moralising to lazily written plot twists before stalling altogether with a badly written and extremely disappointing finale.

Worth seeing?
In short, 21 is never less than watchable but it's nowhere near as much fun as it should have been. Disappointing.

Film Trailer

21 (12A)
21 has been reviewed by 1 users
01 Shaun the Sheep Movie (tbc)

Shaun the Sheep

02 The Minions Movie (tbc)

Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock

03 The Interview (tbc)

Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, James Franco

04 Black Sea (15)

Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Tobias Menzies

05 Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (PG)

Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Dan Stev...

Content updated: 21/12/2014 13:30

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (12A)

Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves come to the end of their journey in the third and final part of Peter Jackson's epic adaptation of Tolkien's novel.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films