21
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -1 1/2

Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishbourne. Drama. Written by Allan Loeb, Peter Steinfeld. Directed by Robert Luketic.

SYNOPSIS: Loosely based on a true story, a college professor gets his best students to take his place as a high roller card counter. Once he has them under his spell, theyre off to Vegas with fake I Ds. When the main student gets caught up in the flamboyant lifestyle and believes he can do no wrong, it threatens the team and the teacher brings him down a notch. They are playing for big stakes and trying to avoid the casinos menacing enforcer at the same time.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Despite the fact that counting cards is not illegal, a fact the screenplay tells us several times, the practice is obviously frowned upon in gambling towns. So my question is, do the casinos actually have a guy who beats up anybody caught counting? Laurence Fishbourne does just that. Though hes a good actor, I found his wiseguy character somewhat unbelievable. If the practice is not illegal, how can the casinos sanction the beatings and threats of death. It seems to me that MIT students could bring charges against the thug and sue the casinos for more than they could win at the tables. Still, I got caught up in what appeared to be a morality tale.

The film explores the rise and downfall of those who think there is no price to pay for sin. The students become gluttonous, soaking up the lifestyle of high rollers. Rather than leading to a fulfillment of his dreams, it causes our young hero to lose his way. He gets caught up in the glamour, leaving behind his morals and his direction. It is impressive to see how the professor, like Satan, makes wrongdoing seem legitimate and satisfying. Slowly, we begin to see the sin take charge, then destroy. This was looking like a modern day morality tale. Sadly, the script takes a different direction. Rather than a moral, the film offers a mission impossible switch. No moral is taught. Like George Clooneys Oceans 11, 12, and 13, it winds up with the good bad guys besting the bad bad guys.

We are left with the reasoning that its okay to beat the Man, just be good to your friends while you enjoy all the worlds vices. Truly, a new morality.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Columbia

Summary
Crude Language: A few crude sexual remarks from college boys.
Obscene Language: Around 10 obscenities, mostly the s-word.
Profanity: Two profanities.
Violence: Two bloody beatings, as men are seen strapped into a chair and punched by the sadistic enforcer. Blood: Bloodied faces.
Sexual Intercourse: One sexual situation, though it does not become overly graphic. We see scantily clad dancers in a mens club.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: Two gay jokes.
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Drinking and smoking throughout.
Other: None
Running Time: 122 minutes
Intended Audience: Older Teens and Up

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