2008-04-11 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

'21' - Bringing Down The Louse
Review By Robert Snyder

Those enamored of Kevin Spacey's patented acerbic ass role will enjoy -

"21," where he repeats it as the world's most corrupt college professor. And those who want that character to get his comeuppance will enjoy it even more.

Micky Rosa (Spacey) is the den mother to a group of M.I.T. egghead 21-year-old students, whom he groups together to "count cards" in blackjack ("21") games at Las Vegas casinos, thereby collecting vast sums of cash. As the head louse who brings down the house, Rosa is an immoral monster, infecting his venom into new young blood. The most tragically polluted is Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess), because he begins his odyssey into evil as a guileless genius merely trying to acquire $300,000 for Harvard Medical School.

The film is based on Ben Mezrich's non-fiction book, "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions," with zippy direction by Robert Luketic ("Legally Blonde"). Ben initially resists Rosa's temptation, but ultimately falls under the spell of college hottie/teammate Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth).

While the counting-card tricks are incomprehensible to average non-gambling audience members, we are treated to the wild-times-in-the-money Vegas montage, standard in most high-roller movies.

Predictably, reality catches up with the 21 clubbers in the form of brutal security thug Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne), who figures out the scheme and smells a Micky Rosa rat in the mix.

Scoring $23.7 million in its opening weekend number one spot, "21" is winning at the box office. As far as Spacey's concerned, it's good to be bad.

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