Whilst knowing broadly the story on which this film is based, I hadn't read the book, nor am I a gambling expert. My wife, who watched it with me, has never stepped inside a casino. Despite all this lack of inside knowledge, we were both royally entertained for two hours.
The minimum of profanity, the sharpness of the script, and the lavish production values made this an unusually enjoyable tale. I can live with a bit of "bad guy" violence and the obligatory chase scene as they did add some spice to proceedings.
Jim Sturgess is a competent male lead, carrying the part of Ben Campbell well, part geek, part super - smart con man.Kate Bosworth as love interest Jill Taylor convinces as both equally smart, and drop dead gorgeous. The imperious Kevin Spacey dominates each scene in which he is in.
The film is not without its flaws, the nerdy comedy duo best friends of Ben are formula writing at its most basic, and several roles (Bens mother and the "Loss Prevention" Casino Team) are caricatures. Also, the background music at the start is mystifyingly loud and anonymous with no attempt to contemporise the story with a period soundtrack.
However, the film is well acted, pacey after an inevitably slow scene setting start, and lavish on the eye with some glamorous Las Vegas sets, and some hedonistic living. Accepting it as a story, rather than a documentary is the key to enjoying this film. Critics seem to focus on what it might have been, pleasure comes from enjoying it for what it is.