Breaking Vegas Reviews
May 23, 2010
A 2004 ninety-minute factual documentary regarding the events upon which the far-less factual 2008 film "21" was supposedly based.
An MIT professor forms a corporation to beat blackjack, a team of card-counting students is trained, and they rake Vegas for millions. Soon enough, the team is demanding a bigger cut of the action, the casinos start catching on, and an old-school casino loss prevention agent is unrelentingly dogging them.
Unlike "21," the viewer here meets, sees and hears the actual individuals involved in these events, including the MIT professor, a number of MIT team members and the casino agents.
Also commenting is Ben Mezrich, the author of the book that inspired both this documentary and "21." And professor Edward O. Thorp, who devised card-counting in the 1960s, appears to tell his story.
This documentary is not anywhere near as drama-pumped or glitzed up as "21" is. However, it does tell the viewer exactly how card-counting and teaming works (a topic barely touched on in "21"), does provide first-person recollections about how it all 'really went down,' and does epilogue what happened to these people afterward.
The viewer will learn, for instance, where he/she can today take a seminar or buy a DVD about card-counting from the MIT team leader.
In contrast, "21" tells the viewer the MIT team leader got "back-roomed" (eg, roughed up), set up the MIT professor, ended up broke - and a lot of other rot that is nothing but Hollywood pulp.
The disc also includes another 90-minute documentary, "High Rollers: A History of Gambling in America" as an extra.
RECOMMENDATION: If the viewer wants to learn more about the actual facts & events surrounding the MIT blackjack team, this documentary is the ticket.