a pretty boring game. If you want to play it as well as possible,
you just follow statistics. Every move you make is predetermined
and can be fit on a three-by-five card. Maybe people like playing
it because it is so fucking simple. Also, because you can win
money at it. Not very often, and with recent payout changes
in Las Vegas, less often than ever. Still, blackjack has a mystique
because people are sexually attracted to anything where they
can get free money.
is about blackjack. It's boring, too. It's based loosely on
the true story of some dweebs at MIT who figured out a scheme
to make tons of dough at blackjack. The basic idea was to have
some people play tables, making the minimum bet, and keep a
count of the number of high and low cards left to be dealt.
The more high cards left in the deck, the better the game is
for the player. The more low cards, the better for the house.
When the cards were rich with high cards, the min-bet player
would signal to an accomplice who would come in and make some
huge bets as long as the deck stayed rich.
the team an edge over the house. Not a huge edge, but it can
turn a game profitable. The problem is, once you get past the
thrill of having figured out a way to beat the house, card counting
is incredibly boring. It sure as hell isn't a good basis for
a two hour movie, especially a crappy, boilerplate one like
21, which dumbs down more people than the Nevada public
school system. It doesn't properly explain card counting, it
doesn't have casino scenes that are remotely realistic and it
made me glad I stole a bunch of Easter candy from one of the
neighbor kids so I at least had something to gnaw on. No casino
lets people bet 100 grand a hand with no heat or without knowing
every little thing about the guy betting. The Hard Rock is not
on a the Strip, neither is the Red Rock. And you don't lose
200 grand in a bad night betting 100K a hand. Just to mention
a few of the hundreds of errors.
a low-rent, drowsier version of Tobey Maguire, is a brainiac
who needs three buttloads of money to pay for Harvard Medical
School. That's why we're supposed to root for him; because he's
a wishy-washy geek wants to go to Harvard. I don't know about
you, but Good fucking God, I can't sleep at night fretting over
which brat gets to be an overpaid pediatrician. Come on, as
long as a movie is going to play as loose and sloppy with facts
as this one, why not say he needed the money to pay terrorists
who would otherwise blow up New York?
movie opens, Sturgess is meeting with a college administrator
who he tells of wet dreams about to be a pompous Ivy League
ass. The stuffy administrator tells him he needs "life experience"
to earn the full-ride scholarship that will fulfill his lifelong
you guess what happens? I guessed that Sturgess wiould get involved
in a blackjack team, earn a shitload of money, end up losing
it, temporarily lose his ethics, meet a girl, and gain the "life
experience" he needed to get the scholarship that was what he
really wanted. The grassfuckers in Hollywood probably think
this is a clever setup, but Christ on a Mic, it's the template
that they give the elephants in Thailand who write scripts with
their trunks to wow crowds.
about 21 is as predictable as the outcome when ten-year-old
boys get their hands on firecrackers and Barbies. Sturgess is
reluctantly drawn into a high stakes blackjack team by a weaselly,
blowhard math professor (Kevin Spacey). But, see, he needs the
money for such a worthy cause: so he won't have to pay back
student loans when he becomes a real doctor. Poor kid. On the
team, he meets a very pretty girl (Kate Bosworth), they make
a lot of money, the casinos catch on, the kids get caught and
Sturgess loses all his money.
he gets that invaluable "life experience." Yeah, right. Scholarship
committees want to give 300 grand to kids who had a bad gambling
jaunt. That looks way better than, say, building mud huts for
Zimbaweans. I'm sure the Board of Regents and the kids who really
did something good would agree.
the shitty obviousness of the plot is the incredibly lame characters
are. Besides Sturgess being as bland and doughy as the bread
at Subway, the rest of the blackjack team is nondescript. They
are supposed to be a bunch of math geniuses, but they never
do math (or anything interesting). I never even saw Bosworth
add two and two, so maybe her special wagering skill is looking
hot, especially in suspenders... seriously. I figure if she
ain't going to act smart, she should at least show us her tits,
maybe roll the nipples between her thumb and forefinger. But
bad movies always have a villain; 21 gives the thankless
job to Laurence Fishburne, who plays a casino security thug.
He beats people up for counting cards. That may have been interesting
thirty years ago when that sort of shit still happened. Or when
Vegas movies still used that hoary cliche. Nowadays, casinos
are owned by huge corporations who are more likely to fuck up
your credit rating than take you into the parking garage and
run a cheese grater over your nuts. I think the last known case
was a while ago when the old Binion's Horseshoe beat up a cheater,
and they got sued for a small fortune for doing it. Fishburne's
character is complete and total bullshit, with a lame-ass subtheme
of the "new" Vegas eliminating human jobs in security. I didn't
understand whether we were supposed to feel bad for him or whether
that was supposed to humanize him somehow, and make us like
him more when he beats people up. All I know is I didn't give
a fuck over Niagra whether or not he kept his job.
the other villain. He's the totally irredeemable one. Only problem
is the fucking movie telegraphs that from the first time we
see him. His actions never surprise.
my biggest fucking beef about this turdfest: it has no morals.
At the end of the movie, in a wildly ridiculous and tedious
finale that includes a chase through a casino and a switcheroo
where Spacey gets burned for being an ass, we're supposed to
be happy that Sturgess got revenge and got his scholarship.
But the little shit never shows any balls. He gets the shit
beat out of him, so he turns over Spacey to Fishburne, so he
can also have the shit whacked out of him. And that makes his
feel better. Oh, and earns him a big-ass scholarship. He never
shows remorse for getting someone beat up. He doesn't even beat
him up himself. He just turns the guy over to a thug and thinks
that is the same as justice. Apparently, we're supposed to agree.
21 is bad and lazy. And if I wanted more of that I'd
look in the mirror more often.
to tell Filthy Something?