Rated 3.0

An MIT math dweeb (Jim Sturgess) joins a team organized by one of his professors (Kevin Spacey) to count cards and make a killing at the Vegas blackjack tables. Written by Peter Steinfeld and Allan Loeb (loosely suggested by a true story) and directed by Robert Luketic, the movie is a bit of an elaborate card trick itself, using flash and dazzle to conceal what a crock the story is, the way a casino is designed to make you forget about all the money you’re losing. The trickery, like most magic acts, doesn’t bear up under trained scrutiny: Is this really the way to count cards? Would these amateur disguises and obvious signals really go unnoticed? Still, it works well enough, with the sensual overload—and the edgy, jittery excitement—of a busy casino floor. It’s empty calories, yes, but tasty enough.