As ever with gambling films, it's difficult to convey the thrill of winning at second hand; the human-interest complications are unconvincing and Spacey himself, I'm afraid, is a lugubrious and deadening presence.
It's a would-be parable about greed that emptily celebrates it, a drama about gifted people who are one-dimensional voids and, most laughable of all, a story about the giddiness of risk-taking that safely plays everything by the numbers.
The film is about a group of MIT students who used a very smart card-counting system to milk the casinos. But the movie blows off the deeper thrills of its source material to make a tidier, less compelling amorality play.
Inspired by the real-life story of the M.I.T. students who took Las Vegas casinos for millions, 21 has been reshaped to fit a simple movie template -- and it's nearly as much fun as watching an insurance professional compute actuarial tables.
The fascinating story of six college students who took Las Vegas for millions gets dealt a bad hand in 21, which turns their true-life saga into a slick, shallow and thoroughly generic caper flick.