Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Save up to 70%
Empire
Film Studies 101
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Jim Sturgess
Kate Bosworth
Kevin Spacey
Laurence Fishburne.
Directors
Robert Luketic.
Screenwriters
Peter Steinfeld
Allan Loeb.
Running Time
123 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
A Fuller Life
3 Star Empire Rating
Futuro Beach
4 Star Empire Rating
Tokyo Tribe
2 Star Empire Rating
Honeytrap
2 Star Empire Rating
Pheonix
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke Of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Whiplash
5 Star Empire Rating
Long Good Friday, The
5 Star Empire Rating

21
Ocean's Eleven: The College Years


submit to reddit


Plot
Ben (Sturgess) is liberated from his geeky life when his college professor (Spacey) spots his genius for maths. Teach’ draws him into a card-counting scheme on the tables in Vegas, winning money to pay his college fees. Until things go wrong…


Review
21

Robert Luketic is so over pink. After establishing himself as Hollywood’s go-to guy for any script that dotted its ‘i’s with hearts, the Legally Blonde director has ditched pastels for something more boysy - and he proves himself capable of frothy amusement for either gender.

Based on a true story, 21 follows Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess), a handsome college nerd, who is inveigled into a group of teenage card-counting blackjack players led by his maths lecturer (Kevin Spacey). So follows a journey of riches won and lost, sexual awakening and really good suits.

This is as much a piece of enjoyable fluff as anything else Luketic has made; it’s just got moodier lighting. The nerd who gets a taste of the cool life is a cinematic stalwart, so it stands to reason that Ben’s first few outings in Vegas provide the film’s zippiest scenes. His fellow scammers are a job lot of characters, allowed only two facial expressions each, but their propensity for taking on new identities every time they hit the tables makes them fun to be around. That people wishing to pass unnoticed would probably not don big hats, goofy glasses and wigs from Madame Skanky’s House of Hookers is rather beside the point. Realism is unwelcome in this realm of wish fulfilment, and that’s just fine.

Luketic places the film in capable hands with his two leads. Bosworth is sweetly determined as love interest Jill, a combination of mutual exclusives: maths genius and prettiest girl in school; a career gambler father, and happy childhood. But it’s Sturgess who makes the movie. The young Brit, who threw heart and lungs into Across The Universe, has an everyman appeal that gives the movie a sturdy centre. Spacey is clearly enjoying himself immensely as the preening Svengali, but his once-subtle charisma has given way to a smirking need to hog the lens, while Laurence Fishburne makes an insufficiently threatening villain, as a security guard outdated by technology.

Being a film about dodgy gambling, 21 can’t resist some sleight of hand in the final act, but it’s an obvious con that won’t draw any gasps from its big reveal. This is a film that's at its most enjoyable when it knows not to play beyond its means.


Verdict
The Ocean’s Eleven: The College Years mood makes for a breezy good time, even if there is, like Vegas, precious little substance beneath the glitz.


Reviewed by Olly Richards

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for 21
Empire Star Rating

.

.. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jpdisco at 19:11, 06 April 2008 | Report This Post


Amazing film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 21:08, 05 April 2008 | Report This Post


Previous page


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Astonishing Movie Star Music Video Cameos
Hiccup, Rhodey and Spidey join the party

Empire's Jurassic World Covers Unveiled
You're going to hear her roar

40 Of The Unlikeliest Movie Character Posters
Would you put these one-sheets on your wall?

Who Is The Vision, Anyway?
An introduction to Avengers: Age Of Ultron's newest addition

Jenny Agutter: Role by Role
From Tin to Captain America to The Railway Children

80 Of The Best Movie Star Adverts
From Sly Stallone selling bread to Hugh Jackman dancing for iced tea

The 15 Most Controversial Alternate Endings
How some of your favourite films could have finished...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Subscribe now and save up to 70%

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe now and save up to 70%
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)