Led by a plucky central performance and rich interplay between Spacey and Sturgess, this homage to Blackjack, Vegas, and the topsy-turvy behind-the-scenes world of gambling is undeniably involving popcorn-entertainment. 7.6/10.
Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess), a brilliant student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, needs some quick cash to pay his tuition bills. He joins a group of students who, under the leadership of unorthodox professor Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey), use their math skills to win big in Las Vegas. Seduced by a beautiful teammate (Kate Bosworth) and loads of money, Ben learns that the stakes are higher than he ever imagined when he crosses paths with casino enforcer Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne).
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Most Memorable Moment: 1. Vegas love-letter scene and first field game at Hard Rock, 2. Opening Blackjack sequence,
Pros: Incredible opening sequence graphic of cards, blackjack, casinos, and the feeling of Vegas and dangers of counting cards, good acting and phenomenal characterization by the main actor as the plucky, quiet, genius MIT kid trying to follow his dream and go to Harvard Med School, Kevin Spacey who steals the show as the cocky, tough business guy , beautiful love interest, scary hilarious Jimmy, etc, gorgeous shots and scenery of the Harvard (as someone who goes there now – seal of authenticity/approval), MIT, and the Cambridge/Boston area, good humor, light tone, light scoring, wowing effects like the stop-motion time lapse around Sturgess in Hard Rock, incredible first half that focuses on the cards, characterization, and thrill of gambling and allure of Vegas, hilarious ending
Cons: Opening credits sequence a little long, kind of oversimplifies/portrays card-counting – obviously it’s not or everyone would do it, gets pretty heavy in melodrama in the second half
Overall Rating: 7.6/10