How people can call the film Racist because some of the characters were changed from Asian to White I'll never know. No one said anything when The King Pin in Dare Devil became Black or Robert Neville in I Am Legend went from being a middle-aged Caucasian male to a young African American man. Ben Campbell in "21" is in real life Jeffrey Ma, who actually has a bit part in the film as Planet Hollywood Dealer Jeff. Now if he had a problem with the film's adaptation in anyway do you really think he take part in it!
If you want a serious and informative documentary go watch the Discovery Channel. However this is the business of show baby and that means entertainment!
Directed by Robert Luketic this film, as you'd expect a Vegas film to be, has got charm, slick gloss, enthusiastic flair and bags of style. A combination of those makes it hard to reject the sheer delight of being swept up in the heady rush of fast wealth and the dicey (no pun intended) pleasure commonly coupled with the gambling thrill.
Jim Sturgess is very good as MIT geek and hero of the piece, Ben Campbell desperate for a scholarship at Harvard Med. Kevin Spacey gives the film quality and just about steals every scene he's in, while Lawrence Fishburne add weight and class to the show.
Possible SPOILER. The ending is very indefinite and you wonder if there was supposed to be an underlying message. If there was one in the closing epilogue narration/speech I understood it to be 'go to Vegas and try and win big by whatever means necessary and if you lose friends along the way and your self respect and possibly all of your money AND get beaten up in the process so what - it was amazing FUN WASN'T IT KIDS!?'
There's plenty to like in 21. Robert Luketic's direction is stylish, and meshes well with the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas setting that a majority of the film takes place in. Accordingly, the movie moves at a nice pace, and only slows to a noticeable halt during a handful of scenes. The acting is pretty good across the board, not only from veterans like Kevin Spacey or Laurence Fishburne, but also from younger leads Jim Sturgess and Kate Bosworth. There's also plenty to dislike in 21 though. The main fault is in the script, which suffers from a case of bland characterization and story beats. It's the typical rise-fall study that comes with the heist film genre, and while a admittedly clever twist in the third act tries to shake things up, it doesn't save the entire script from an overwhelming sense of familiarity. It's hard to root for characters when they struggle amid very ideal circumstances (the MIT-attending protagonist's main struggle is the fact that he can't afford to go to Harvard), and so this lack of relatability takes away from any impact that the poker games should have. You never find yourself caring all that much whether these characters are successful or not in their card counting scheme, and that hurts the film a lot. It probably doesn't help that the film doesn't even try to explain how card counting really works, so we as viewers are left in the dark as to what's truly going on.
"Winner winner chicken dinner?" Not quite.