21 counts cards through a frenetic albeit predictable crime caper. Blackjack might look like a formidable card game, especially when witnessing the blood, sweat and tears at tables in the lavish casinos of Las Vegas. But actually, if you strip the rules back, it's fairly simple. 21 presents its simplicity to extreme levels, to the point that even children could start playing and believe in the old "counting cards" technique (please don't...). Despite the basic approach, it's an enjoyable crime drama. A ridiculously smart student lacks the funds to attend Harvard medical school, and is coincidentally recruited by a professor to participate in the "business" of blackjack.
Utilising his intuition and inhuman mathematic ability to "count cards" and rake in large amount of chips from casinos. Essentially resembling a human calculator, succumbing to peer pressure for nefarious reasons. It all seems too good to be true. Alas, a few predictable twists and turns sends our protagonist down a journey of reflection, however the pace and frantic energy within the narrative consistently makes this flick enjoyable. The first half constantly threw enough mathematical equations, logical scenarios and variables to complete a degree in advanced statistical analysis. The second half then tossed in some unwanted melodrama, romance and plot conveniences. But hey, it's fine.
The fun light tone throughout was never diminished, and the bright illuminations of Las Vegas enhanced the enjoyment even more. Spacey (excuse my language...) was excellent. Slimy, sarcastic and sophisticated as all businessmen/professors should be. Sturgess overplayed the awkward nerd slightly too much, but by the end I was invested in his performance. The soundtrack of trashy pop songs detracted from the flamboyant environment that the characters spent many nights in. Not enough for me to not recommend this film however. A light-hearted crime caper that could've been a "winner winner, chicken dinner" but settled for a "I'm going to call it a night" instead (no idea where I'm going with this...).