Ben Mezrichs 2002 best-seller Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions was a smart narrative about . . . well, you did see the subtitle, right? It was a risky proposition for Mezrich, relying on mathletes up to their asses in cash and a complex system of counting cards to tell his tale. But the big-screen version of Mezrichs book aint no gamble at allthings about as risky as playing the nickel slots with 10 cents in your pocket. The filmmakers have excised the books genuine thrills and instead filled in the blanks with blanks, chief among them drab Jim Sturgess as a newbie among the wizened ranks of card-counters. Director Robert Luketic has pared down the story to the most hackneyed of three-act fairy talesthe whiny rise-and-fall film in which a bright young thing ditches his dorky pals and wills his way to a fortune, then loses it all in a fit of stupid hubris, then redeems himself only after his pile of cash turns to a pile of shit. Hes a schmuck with brains, a dullard with cutesa bust, in other words, in a movie that wastes a lot of time and money and really, really shoulda stayed in Vegas.
Robert LuketicKevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Jim Sturgess, Jack McGee, Liza Lapira, Aaron Yoo, Sam Golzari, Spencer Garrett, Kieu ChinhAllan Loeb, Ben MezrichWilliam S. BeasleySony/Columbia Pictures