Reviewed on 2009 April 14
Fact-based tale of some MIT students and their professor who trek to Vegas to count cards and get more than they bargained for.
Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is doing everything in his power to get into Harvard Medical School, and the trouble is he’s as broke as he is brilliant. His solution to a problem posed by Professor Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) leads Rosa to recruit him for a team of math geniuses with a plan to make millions. They going to go to the casinos in Las Vegas and using code words and hand-signals, count the cards to win at black jack (and pretty much any other game that looks profitable). The seemingly fool-proof plan does hit some road blocks, including Ben’s reaction to sudden wealth.
This is kind of like The Hustler, only not as deep in its casino-glitz setting and softened up for the Coldplay generation. It looked interesting in previews and it was even better than I hoped, with some broad but entertaining insights into human nature. More than that, it’s just a slick, entertaining story. It’s not a fair fight to have a pack of MIT nerds against one pit dealer, but the temptation to make that kind of money without breaking any laws is presented well. Apparently it follows the real-life events written about in Bringing Down the House so loosely that calling it a true story is like calling a Twinkie® a cake, but it’s still fun.
Two chocolate morsels, and a tonic and lime.