Ben Mezrich’s addictive tome about MIT students robbing Vegas blind, “Bringing Down the House” received a workmanlike treatment in the film adaptation, “21.” Box office was impressive for a March opening and the DVD release should do well enough to add to Sony’s coffers, in that one of the featurettes offer a lesson on card counting and is a valuable took in taking on a casino. A purchase of this two-disc set is small price to pay in learning how to master blackjack — or at least fooling yourself into thinking that’s possible.
Director Robert Luketic and producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti add their voices to the commentary, offering the usual chatter about how the project came to fruition and in ways the cast was put together. Jim Sturgess, it turns out, wasn’t even considered originally, but Luketic was watching “Across the Universe” to view another actor but dismissed that person right away after noticing Sturgess. The fact that he was a Brit playing an American didn’t faze the director in the least, and the decision feels like a smart one. Sturgess is cleary a talent on the rise.
Extras “Basic Strategy” and “Money Plays” discuss the machinations of filming in both Boston and Vegas, and the costume and production design, respectively. Shooting in Vegas is nothing new cinematically, and there was an attempt to up the glam factor in having the characters relish in their winnings at the table, and go over the top in spending it.
Yet it is “The Advantage Player,” in which card counting is explained, that is not only the most worthy feature of the package, but will be required viewing for those who only went to see the film to satisfy their gambling jones.