Ben (Jim Sturgess) is trying to get into Harvard Medical School but doesn’t have the money. He is told that chances are slim that he will get the full scholarship that is given to one student each year. He realizes that his life has been too easy and that he has no story to tell.
Then his professor (Kevin Spacey) recruits him into his card counting blackjack club. They go to Vegas and try to bring down a few casinos to make loads of money.
As an avid blackjack player it’s easy for me to understand what’s happening in this movie. They give us insight on card counting strategy. However, if I had never picked up a deck of cards I would have been totally lost watching this movie. It dumbs down the dialogue too much, but then doesn’t explain enough details.
That brings me to the ridiculous plot holes in this film. Why are they only hitting up 3 different casinos when they can lessen their chance of getting caught if they do a different casino each time? Also, why are they flying from Boston to Las Vegas each week when Atlantic City is over 2000 miles closer? And there wasn’t enough detail explained behind the secret identity concept. Overall, there were too many questions left on the table, so to speak.
But the entertainment value is definitely there. It’s suspenseful, it’s funny, and it’s enjoyable. We like the protagonists and are rooting for them. Except for after we realize that the characters’ personalities waver a little too much.
The biggest downfall here is the script and the directing. Both were sloppy. These characters are attempting a heist of sorts–yet they are constantly looking indiscreetly at each other throughout the jobs–perhaps to let the audience in on what’s happening. But instead it just feels contrived. And the actors aren’t directed to their best potential–besides Spacey who has enough experience to override certain suggestions. But the script needed one or two more rewrites and it would have been tight enough to really work.
With a heist movie we expect it to be slick–which this film failed to do on a couple of occasions. But besides that, it’s a fun watch.