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.
Before sinking into a predictable morality tale, 21 coasts on the superficial thrill of watching casinos take a few hits, but gamblers looking for a how-to lesson on winning in Vegas will be putting their pencils down pretty quickly.
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.
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.