Mathematics genius Ben Campbell dreams of getting into Harvard Med, but if he doesn't get the $300,000 scholarship, the cash-strapped Ben will see his dream disappear. Enter MIT professor Micky Rosa (Spacey) – he runs a small team of college student card-counters who take off for Vegas every weekend to cash in at the Blackjack tables. With Ben on board, Micky and co. are confident they'll clean up, but not if Laurence Fishburne's frustrated casino boss has anything to do with it. When the movie opens, Ben is a Dudley Do-Right: "I thought there was more to life than just money." He might be a bit wet, naive and needs to grow up, but that's okay - this is a movie and we know that he will turn into something else entirely over the next two hours. He'll also get it on with the sexy Jill Taylor (Bosworth) and will reach heady heights in neon lights, then hit the lowly-lows before coming good in the end. That's all fine and well because this is a Hollywood movie; but it's the blatant, obvious way that 21 hits all those notes that's the most frustrating aspect of a film that could have been decent enough. Everything is signposted to such an extent that you'll think you're Nostradamus by predicting what happens next. Sturgess is fine in his first lead role, doing what's asked of him without going that extra mile. Spacey is the biggest disappointment, however, trying his level best to be the Spacey we all know and love, but he's too peripheral to have much of an impact. Fishburne suffers the same fate, waiting around until the plot comes his way - and if your two biggest stars are not firing on all cylinders, your Good Will Counting film is in trouble.
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