The Last Casino
2004

Originally made for Canadian TV, this 2004 film was also inspired by Ben Mezrich's Bringing Down the House but was released some four years prior to the Internationally distributed "21". To the best of my knowledge The Last Casino has never been released in the UK, although it is available in it's entirety via YouTube, which is how I viewed it.

Despite the pretty unconvincing villain "investor" (I couldn't see how any nasty crim with a reputation to keep would carry around a haircut like that), I have to say I quite liked this one and it's slight diversion from Mr M's original storyline.

After the investor gets wind of the fact that the broke Maths Prof (played by Charles Martin Smith) he's bankrolled to play Blackjack has been booted out of the local casino yet again, and his options for playing are running out, he decides it's time to call it a day and get his bankroll back. The problem is, that in addition to his AP activities at the felt, the Maths Prof has a bit of a gambling habit and despite the crim relieving him of all of his available loose cash and chips he's still $40K in debt to him. After a brief exchange, which involves the Prof losing the top of one of his fingers, the Prof tells him he'll get him his money by putting together a team of talented students to stand in for him at the tables, although he will need some money as a bankroll to get them started.

Then follows the Prof's search for the talented students he needs to carry it off, and shortly afterwards he pulls together a team of three; a geeky academic type, a flash lad who's at Uni just to fill time and a cool young female AI (artificial intelligence) student who he finds struggling through her degree by waiting tables in the local pizza parlour. After introducing them to the concept of card-counting, promising them easy money and training them up in the necessary skills, he presents them to the villain at a practice session for a final nod. The villain agrees to start them off with a $10K bankroll, and the same day the ackers show up they decend on their local house of chance to put it all into practice.

Even with all the practice put in the team's debut performance in the local casino is dismal, but despite the misgivings of the Prof that it had all gone pear-shaped from the off they still rake in $6K profit for their first evening's work. From there on it's easy money; too easy in fact. After initial successes they start getting sloppy and when the villain turns up to watch them in action one evening he decides, again, to call it a day and take his money back. He also informs the Prof his debt has now risen to $100K, and he's got just one week to cough up or else. The Prof, being the coniving git he is, then tells the team they've got to come up with $500K within a week or there'll all end up suffering badly. The three team members, fearing for their lives, pool their own respective winnings that they still have and with around $125K they set off to turn it into half a million.

There's a fair bit more after that, but I won't spoil it by telling in case you fancy watching the movie yourself. Overall an enjoyable movie, with some funny parts, and with the added sweetner of the young Katherine Isabelle (who played the sultry Margot in the series "Hannibal" when it was screened in the UK last year) co-starring.

Definitely one to watch if you like card-counting movies.

February 2015.


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