Based on Ben Mezrich’s book Bringing Down The House that profiled the true story of how a group of MIT students developed a lucrative card counting concept for black jack, 21 sees Jim Sturgess leading as Ben, a brilliant student looking to pay for his education. Maths professor Micky (utterly ruthless, so an odd casting for Kevin Spacey) offers him the solution – to join his team in making their fortune in Vegas, baby.
21 occasionally falters as it chases the mainstream dollar through a seemingly tacked on romance between Ben and suspiciously sexy stats girl Jill (Kate Bosworth), not to mention the usual staying true to who you are gubbins. But this is far in excess of what you’d expect from a popcorn movie. Luketic infuses the card scenes with an undeniably cool Fincher-lite style while the twists are intelligent and only partially signposted. Undemanding it may be, but 21 is great entertainment.