In essence, it adheres to the evergreen guys-on-a-mission template, with hard-up undergrad, Ben (Jim Sturgess, lightweight but passable) fearing he’ll be priced out of Harvard Medical School. He is lured by maths professor Rosa (Kevin Spacey, urbane but hokey) into a guerrilla unit of his best students ready to take on the baize tables: his argument is that twenty-one is a simple game, and by remembering which cards have been dealt, you give yourself a better chance of knowing when to fold or take a chance.
Prospects look good for the rest of the picture at this stage, but disappointment takes over with the realisation it’s all being pitched to a pre-teen audience, smoothing out potentially juicy moral dilemmas and sanitising the grown-up throb of the Vegas experience into anodyne glitz.
Actually, there’s something rather pernicious in the way the film drools over the towering chips, palatial suites and incipient gambling fever, as if to tantalise viewers way too young to be admitted to these very establishments; all of which hardly keeps us on-message that friendship’s a greater prize than cash alone. The whizzo-conceit and slick visual bling do give it an undeniably diverting buzz, yet the movie’s cautionary formula shows its hand way before the clunky final reel.