Posts Tagged ‘Robert Luketic’

bad_reaction1A few people recommended that I should watch 21 due to reasons varying from “super cool” and “awesome” to “thrilling” and err “awesome” again. With stringent gun control laws in India, I am unable to hunt these people down and shoot their faces. Then again I probably should listened to Mangaladevi’s pet bear and rented this DVD out instead of buying it…or perhaps go to Hell where apparently this film is broadcast 15 hours a day. Think Ocean’s Eleven without the Eleven, Stephen Soderberg, Andy Garcia or Elliott Gould and replace all of them with a bunch of teenyboppers sporting designer jackets and supremely bad one-liners. (Cliché alert – Ben’s mom says, “You only turn 21 once”)

Kevin Spacey reprises his role as Keyser Söze (actually he doesn’t); of course, this time without sidekick Kobayashi, a spiffy double called Verbal Kent or even a thimbleful of the awesomeness that made him one of great actors of his generation. In 21, he half-heartedly plays Micky Rosa – a pointlessly sinister, smug-faced professor who encourages his students to huddle up and swindle casinos using arithmetic logic and then threatens them with more than an unkind word when they screw up. Maybe it’s the director Robert Luketic’s nod to his erstwhile love for dominatrix. (Cliché alert – Prof Rosa says, “The only thing worse than a loser is someone who won’t admit he played badly”)

21-movie-poster-kevin-spacey-kate-bosworth11There are enough illogical scenes and dialogues in this film to bring Ed Wood back to life and onto the director’s chair. Now look I don’t mind errors in subplots…hell, most Seventies thrillers had a bunch and I still adored the bejeezuses out of them. But this is too much. The protagonist Ben is a supposed prodigy of advanced mathematics…a detached kid who was even quoted by the good professor as being someone who relies on logic than emotions. (Cliché alert – Prof Rosa says, “You are only ever as good to me as the money you make”) And he is so smart that he hides the money he has earned inside a wee little hole on his bedroom’s ceiling.

His affinity for logical mathematics so great that he doesn’t use any of it while answering Professor Rosa’s introductory game show question. (Cliché alert – Jill Taylor says, “You know what I like most about Las Vegas? You can be whoever you want to be”) For anyone who has watched the film, here is a hint…after Ben finds out about the goat behind Door No. 1 and chooses Door No. 2 over Door No. 3, the professor applauds him for being logical and changing his initial choice. However the logical extension of the answer to this puzzle is to forget the initial choice and to start off with fresh choices. (Cliché alert – Cole Williams ponders, “You think you can beat the system?”) Kevin Spacey’s character doesn’t just stop there, as he continues to goof-up throughout the film. Smack in the middle of the film, the good professor turns to Ben and says, “Fisher and Jimmy have always been the big players, I want you to take Jimmy’s place”…a perfectly reasonable thing to say considering the respect he has nurtured for Ben. Only screw up is Jimmy and Fisher are the same person. (Cliché alert – Ben Campbell says, “I’m not the same guy I was back in Boston”)

The rest of the characters are none better. We have the resident Asian kids, who act like they have been led astray from the local videogame convention and then of course, Ben’s love interest played by Kate Bosworth who does nothing much than wander off here and there.

Maybe it’s just me, but I got the feeling that the director was trying too hard to give this nonsense a contemporary and more acceptable feel. In the interviews I have seen, Luketic claims that 21 stays true to the real-life incident “about six MIT students who were trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings”. Yes, except for the fact that in reality, the kids who beat the system were all Asian American nerds. In Robert Luketic’s 21, the audience wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if the characters suddenly started fornicating with Apple pies while making lame Paris Hilton jokes. (Cliché alert – A random gambler says, “Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery”)

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