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21

Year: 2008
Production Co: GH3
Studio: Columbia Piuctures
Director: Robert Luketic
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne
Last year's Lucky You with Eric Bana mostly failed because it's very hard to make a card game exciting. The producers and director of Casino Royale had to be similarly careful.

21 has to do the same thing, and attempts it by stylising the many card game sequences with fast cuts, dramatic music and little animated codas to liven things up.

Otherwise, it could have been any (tired) easy come, easy go story as a college student is recruited into an elite club of card counters who go to Vegas on weekends, crack the banks of the big casinos and live the life most of their contemporaries only dream about.

Cue the expected redemption tale as the hero loses his friends and the respect of his peers and loved ones over his antics.

The plot is extremely predictable, and you just know there's going to be a strip club scene, standing up with head out of the sunroof of a limo drinking champagne, the beautiful girl falling for the dorky hero and the antagonist is left to a fearsome old school casino security consultant.

More might have been made of it if only there'd been a single streak of charisma in the cast. Jim Sturgess is instantly forgettable as hero Jim. Kevin Spacey sleepwalks through his role as the group patriarch Mickey and though beautiful, Kate Bosworth has yet to bring a trace of sex appeal to any role.

It's slickly made and holds your interest as long as you can forget you'll know what's going to happen five minutes before it does every step of the way.
Perhaps mindful of such an oft-trod storyline, much was made about the fact that it's based on a true story. But in true Hollywood style, a group of young Asian men have been replaced by the father figure, the girl next door and the dorky protagonist we can all relate to... with a few token Asians thrown in.

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