My goodness me, it's been a good while since I've seen a film this ... this ... generic and cliched and so completely obvious from start to finish. This is the sort of film that flags up future events by decorating them with bright bulbs that twinkle, and liberal dashings of tinsel and naked women with those nipple tassel things flying round in circles.
You know it all from the off, hard-up kid joins a group (which includes the girl he pines after, because you know, he just does so the producers can check another box on their To Do list) who count cards to make loads of money, led by their crooked professor. They all bugger off to Vegas on the weekends and do just that - with REALLY OBVIOUS SIGNALS.
How obvious? Well, we're all told ahead of time of course, but even though we already know, every signal has to be flagged up again with slow motion and close ups to get the point across. They all walk around each other, and their team mates all turn around to look at them in a really obvious fashion, then the signal is given. It's laughable, it really is, well it would be if it wasn't so piss-annoying.
Then, in-keeping with the sheer volume of flag-upping, Kevin Spacey (the prof) who's been playing this gig for years, makes it insanely clear to the really clever protagonist that you don't let your emotions get in the way, nor do you get drunk at the table - after one of the team does it (who, cliche fans, was the previous golden boy but he's been usurped by our lead), our protagonist ends up doing it ... but then again he'd have to, because Spacey wouldn't be able to exact revenge, thus leading to the third act double-cross.
Yes, it's spoilers, but to be honest you'd have seen these coming at least half an hour before they happened. It's that generic and cliched, it couldn't have taken that long to write either, it surely was just a case of copy & pasting from various other scripts that use the 'rise & fall' arc (and all of which use it with far more flair and originality than this garbage).
These really are the thickest smart people known to man, they flock to Vegas every single weekend, using various aliases - despite the fact that many of the people on the floor know who they are - and win big every time. They don't seem to vary their winnings, or their luck during the game - essentially they blast in each weekend, win everything, then fuck off back to Boston.
You'd have thought a person smart enough to be in MIT would know that maybe you'd wanna pace yourself, and certainly not let your emotions get in the way - but they did, so they deserved to get shafted in the end.
Also - apparently the original people who did this (oh yes, it's based on a true story ... which hopefully wasn't as cliched as this movie) were all Asian ... hmmm ... only two token Asians in this group, and they barely do anything except look at their team-mates in front of everybody in the casino in a really obvious way before giving their "hot table" signal, which is whipped out of the bag more than the amount of crap the male Asian character shoves in his bag, because he's a kleptomaniac ... obviously ... but don't pay that much attention, cos that's not important enough to really include, but silly enough to include for a silly laugh somewhere ... like the silly laugh about the lead being good with numbers (which has trailer fodder written all over it).
Add to this the usual 'he ditches his friends, lets them down, then learns a valuable lesson about friendship and loyalty, then they're all mates again' sub-plot, as well as this whole fuss about an essay to afford the protagonist a scholarship to attend Harvard Medical School that has to be about life experience that will "dazzle" the judge (guess what story will "dazzle" by the end) and there you have it. The most cliched sack of generic rise & fall shit you've ever laid your eyes on. Not only is it a waste of time, but it's a whole friggin' two hours wasted.
Finally, what is it with this Kate Bosworth? Why does she keep getting jobs? I really cannot understand it. She was ghastly as Lois Lane in Superman Returns, she's not interesting, she's not a stunning beauty, she's far too emaciated, her performances lack any real substance and ... well, I could go on, but suffice to say I'm far from a fan of hers. I really don't understand the point in her, come to think of it, I think the same of Sienna Miller.
But then again, all the acting in 21 is as bored and listless as Bosworth is generally...I mean it's awful. Jesus, it's rubbish...and now I feel much better for getting that off my chest.