21 (+ BD Live) [Blu-ray]
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Product Description

Inspired by the true story of MIT students who mastered the art of card counting and took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings. Looking for a way to pay for tuition, Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) finds himself quietly recruited by MIT's most gifted students in a daring plot to break Vegas. With the help of a brilliant statistics professor (Kevin Spacey) and armed with fake IDs, intelligence and a complicated system of counting cards, Ben and his friends succeed in breaking the impenetrable casinos. Now, his challenge is keeping the numbers straight and staying one step ahead of the casinos before it all spirals out of control.

An unconvincing exercise in moral complexity, 21 is based on Ben Mezrich's book Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe) plays brilliant, blue-collar scholar Ben Campbell, whose doubts that he'll win a scholarship to Harvard Medical School compel him to join a secret, M.I.T. gang of math whiz kids. Under the silky but chilling command of a math professor (Kevin Spacey), Jim and the others master card counting, i.e., the statistical analysis of cards dealt in blackjack games. The team lives a humdrum existence during the week, but on weekends in Sin City, the students are rolling in cash, going to exclusive clubs, and feeling on top of the world. (Ben even gets the girl: a comely, fellow counter played by Kate Bosworth.) Despite all that success, Ben feels ethically compromised, and indeed director Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde), in the old tradition of American movies, plays it both ways where fun vices are concerned. On the one hand, it feels so good; on the other, ahem, we know it's wrong. That studied ambivalence proves wearing after a while, making the most interesting character in the film a casino watchdog played by Laurence Fishburne. A master at reading the emotions of gamblers beating the house with a scam, he's admirable for being good at his job, but repellent for wrecking the faces of counters in casino dungeons. He's all about moral complexity in the tradition of anti-heroes, and a truly provocative element in an otherwise superficial movie. --Tom Keogh

Beyond 21

Two-disc Special Edition DVD

Read the book 21 was based on

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Stills from 21 (click for larger image)










Customer Reviews:

  • Dumbed down
    What happened with this movie is, they took a story that originated in the real world that was highly fascinating, and dumbed it down to a formulaic movie that is utterly predictable and just plain boring.

    If they had stuck with more genuine material, the story would be more interesting. The movie is a disservice to the players in the actual events....more info
  • Frankly, garbage
    This is NOT a movie of Bringing Down the House, which was a very good account of the experience of being part of a team of Black Jack shysters. The script writers clearly did not understand the type of card-counting being done in Bringing Down the House, which is probably why they created this bogus back-story about a brainiac college student (very unconvincingly acted by Jim Sturgess) that had nothing to do with this kind of card-counting, which is done by teams and does not require one to be a brainiac, just detail-oriented and observant, and able to follow directions. In addition, the first sample presented in the movie of his mathematical prowess was that he knew how to break 100% up into 3 parts...which made his professor take a second look at his paper...at MIT no less...which is even more unconvincing than the acting. Overall result? Embarrassing....more info
  • Young and reckless or is it young and responsible?
    Entertaining movie about a group of MIT students and their professor who plan to take down Las Vegas casinos by playing black jack and counting cards. This group of young people are all talented and smart and they all have big dreams. But they come from humble background and in the new world where schoilarships are limited and it takes more that 4.0 GPA and extracurricular activities to get them, the only thing left for them is to play cards for money in hopes they save enough for their medical schools board and tuition. I like the fact that film is not trying to preach what the high moral ground should be in those types of situations, but rather focuses on how certain types of success can change the nature of human beings, nature of friendship and the shift of power. Kevin Spacey is great in his role of the professor who scopes, trains and "invests" in his gambling student talent....more info
  • Predictable and boring really
    This could have had so much more but poor boy wants to have enough money to go to medical school. Has an aptitude for counting cards. You can fill in the rest. Its predictable and not very exciting....more info
  • Pure Hollywood and a lot of fun, but unrealistic, even though based on a true story
    Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a brilliant MIT student on his way to Harvard Medical School. He's already been accepted, but the money is an issue. Ben is up for a full scholarship, but so are 76 other people, and he has spent so much time studying, he's had little opportunity for the "life experience" the scholarship board seeks from that one "dazzling" candidate that deserves the $300,000 free ride.

    So, when his Nonlinear Equations professor, Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey), recruits him to his team of other brilliant students to count cards in Las Vegas casinos, he reluctantly accepts -- on the condition that once he's earned the three-hundred grand, he's out.

    Spacey is electric as Professor Rosa, but it's Sturgess's work as Ben Campbell that grounds this flight of fancy in reality. He is instantly likable, and his troubles are relatable, even though few people have actually experienced them. Laurence Fishburne also has a nice turn as ultra-intimidating security man Cole Williams, a man who does whatever it takes to keep his job in an increasingly computer-controlled arena.

    Though it's supposedly based on a true story, 21 is pure Hollywood all the way. From its underprivileged hero given the opportunity of a lifetime, to its instant inclusion of the hero's dream love interest (here Kate Bosworth), to how Ben drops his geek friends once he gets the chance to hang out with cooler people, to how the student surpasses the teacher.

    The first portion of the movie is so predictable, in fact -- and so spelled-out for the general audience -- that it's a struggle just to get through to the interesting portion: the actual Vegas scenes. As a whole, however, 21 is a lot of fun, and I was surprised at how much I thought about it after it was over, especially that insipid but catchy phrase, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner." ...more info
  • Loved it!
    Fun and Entertaining, really enjoyed this movie, even more so because it's based on a true story. I'm really puzzled as to why this wasn't more of a box office success. A hidden gem, highly recommended....more info
  • cool heist film
    i love any movie where people find a way to obtain large amounts of money and '21' is no expectation. the cast is fun, the film is visually interesting and the dvd release is decent. if you like Vegas themed movies you would love this. its harmless and enjoyable. check it out....more info
  • Some loose ends and holes, but certainly worth viewing
    Okay, I have not read the book this was based on, so I don't know how accurate it is. Still, it is a compelling story of the attraction of a lot of money, an ambitious and needy student, a conniving professor, and what happens when you compromise on integrity in the quest to get rich fast.

    Kevin Spacey gives a fine performance as the professor in question, who sucks in a group of gifted students in his scheme to make gazillions of dollars in Vegas via card counting at 21. Jim Sturgess, the newest team member, turns out to be the smartest but also the most desperate, and it becomes clear that excitement, alcohol, and complacency can wear down even the most serious card-counters.

    I would have liked seeing some crawls at the end explaining what really happened to these students, their professor, and the casino "eyes" who kept an eye on the action and the perpetrators. Unfortunately, we are left to wonder about their true fate. Also, who the heck would hide huge stacks of money under a loose ceiling panel in a dorm room? Nobody--except one guy in this movie.
    ...more info
  • Insulting to the informed viewer
    From the outset of this farce it is clear that the creators of this film did not do their homework. Granted, as a private school alum with a math degree who has also spent many an hour playing blackjack and counting cards, who also has a passing knowledge of the russian language, I was in a unique position to either tear this film apart or thoroughly enjoy the rich nuances one would expect about a movie that appealed to me on so many levels. Massive run-on sentences aside, this movie fails on many levels. If you are hoping to find in this film Bringing Down the House brought to life, you will sadly have to wait 20 years for the inevitable remake. This movie is for laypeople who want to envision winning lots and lots of money and screwing the casinos. In the interest of retaining the few readers who have read this far, I will now list the many lapses:
    1. When the protagonist (PROT) is first introduced to the secret card counting society, watch the cards that Spacey deals. Keep your eye on them as the camera cuts back and forth to PROT. The number of and orientation of the cards is different each time we cut back to Spacey, though he is clearly just chatting the entire time and has not manipulated the deck at his side.
    2. PROT devises a new method for solving equations on the first homework assignment of an undergraduate math class? Sorry, that's absurd. Also absurd is that Spacey doesn't even call any attention to it until PROT has reasoned through the silly variable change problem. Further, the lecture material would seem more appropriate for a 100 or perhaps 200 level course and not MIT seniors.
    3. The name on the fake russian id is mispronounced. The pronunciation they use transposes the actual letters of the last name on the id. How convincing of a con can you be if you can't even pronounce your own name?
    4. The movie goes to elaborate lengths to demonstrate that PROT is an ungodly genius among men. Such intelligence is not necessary for card counting.
    5. Einstein reincarnate would not need signals from his cohorts after having sat at the table and played. The signals and code words inform him of the count at the time of his entry, whereupon he presumably would commence counting for himself.
    6. An MIT valedictorian of limited financial means who finds new solutions to age old problems, which have previously been slogged through by generations of students, professors, and scientists, would find himself with a generous scholarship to Harvard. If nothing else, it would be easy for him to borrow money. I'd speculate he's already had to borrow plenty to get through MIT, but the coffers do not tend to dry up for students of his ilk. He would have no problem getting the money he needs legitimately, even if he fails to win the prestigious full ride.
    7. Does the PROT intend to pay for Harvard Med in cash? Why else would he stash hundreds of thousands of dollars in the rafters of his dorm room? The money should have been deposited in interest bearing accounts and later claimed as gambling winnings.
    8. There's an "intense" scene early on where PROT is forced to fill his pants up with cash in the airport bathroom before he boards his first plane to Vegas. From Boston. No one cares if you are carrying large sums of money on a domestic flight. It would be more problematic to be found with money in your pants during a random security check or to appear as if you're smuggling a bomb under your sweatshirt. The scene seems to be an ignorant homage to the great movie I recommend in the next sentence.


    If you want to watch an awesome movie about true to life gambling, check out Owning Mahowny....more info
  • Awful
    Terribly disapointing movie. Kevin Spacey mails it in, playing the same likable villain he played in The Client, minus the southern accent. Choopy, uneven, inplausible script. No character development. Just a waste of time....more info
  • Totally Enjoyable
    I found the story enjoyable, the acting good and the filming beautiful and creative. It isn't an in-depth character study or a tortured drama, but a can-you-imagine of good students and an avaricious teacher getting in over their heads in the world of Vegas gambling. I particularly liked Jim Sturgess in his role and find it hard to believe he is English and not American. The only things that would have made it more enjoyable for me would have been a longer love scene and more details about their shopping and other indulgences. I saw it twice in theaters, bought the DVD, have watched it 5 or 6 times and will watch it again. I can't understand all the mediocre reviews....more info
  • gambling glamor made boring film
    This film is "inspired by" a true story told in the book Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions (2003). In real life, the MIT Blackjack Team devised a complex scheme of card-counting, disguises, and hand signals to win four million dollars in Vegas before the heavy hand of casino security gave them the boot. This film follows that outline, but it's a pale imitation of a genuinely interesting tale of greed, intellect, and emotion. Kevin Spacey stars as the MIT professor Micky Rosa who bullies, badgers, and betrays his six students in venial Vegas. The dialogue is horrible and at points entirely predictable. There's no character development. The sub-plots about friendship and parents hold little interest. The plot does take some unexpected twists, but even this resolves in a cheesy ending. It's quite a feat to make a boring movie about the glitz and glamor of Vegas gambling. Skip the film, and read the book. ...more info
  • It's a MOVIE!!!
    Movies are for entertainment purposes, and this was entertaining. This is the first movie I've seen with Jim Sturgess and he was perfect for the part. And, I did not realize he is English...even after the forth or fifth time watching the movie. I liked him so much in this movie, I plan to rent the other movies he is in. The thing that bothered me the most was Jill's hair! Why did they give this attractive character such a bad hairdo? Not only was the color bad, the cut was not flattering at all. Putting the bad hair aside, the movie was great. Every actor was perfect for thier role. This is not a "Gambling" movie, but entertaining movie....more info
  • fromage fort
    The French have a method of taking bits and ends of various leftover cheese and blending them into a seriously funky new cheese called fromage fort (strong cheese.) Those two words kept repeating in my head throughout the torture that was watching this 'film.' The cheese came from several different sources - the script, the direction, the acting.

    Oh it is bad. Please note that this piece of refuse is rated PG-13. I can't help but think that any movie about Las vegas should receive a default rating of R. Heck, you can't even walk down the strip without being handed an X-rated card inviting you to buy some female company for the evening.

    I got suckered by the fact that Kevin Spacey and Lawrence Fishburne are in the movie. Don't be fooled. And shame on the both of them, as they are vastly more capable actors than the pathetic performances they contribute to 21.

    If you are into Dawson's Creek or One Tree Hill you will probably like this movie, as it feels like a 2-hour episode of either of the above.

    Hope this helps!...more info
  • There's Something About 21 That Just Doesn't Add Up.
    Yet another "probably wouldn't rent if it wasn't that it was free" title, 21 seemed pretty exciting on the trailer, but fell sorta flat fully seen. This film's about a "brilliant with numbers" MIT student joining a secret college club that has figured out how to never lose at Blackjack in Vegas and walk away with thousands, all the while led by their professor, played by favorite Kevin Spacey was decent, but I kept asking myself, where did I see this story on film before? The lead is played by Jim Sturgess, who impressed me in Across The Universe, but here I could hear his English accent bleed out with every other word. Kate Bosworth, who starred in Superman Returns with Spacey, plays the love interest, but just didn't seem all that interesting.

    In fact, the only thing interesting was how they got away with it, because the code-words, hand signals, and disguises seemed so transparent the film's ending should have happened when they first got off the plane! So if you're really big on Vegas Heist films, it's worth a view, but to most others, bet on another film and wait for cable.
    (RedSabbath Rating:6.5/10)...more info
  • Jigsaw of a movie
    The only reason this will get two stars is because of Spacey's consistently great performance. Aside from Spacey, this movie felt like multiple movies attempting to flow into each other, without much success. Numerous cliches are approached throughout, and for a movie focused on gambling, there was barely any blackjack being played! It was mostly a melodramatic teen/college coming of age story or "life experience drama" or whatever you want to classify it as. Do yourself a favor, and if you would like to see a pretty good card movie, rent/buy Rounders....more info
  • Fun night in
    How can you not like a movie with Kevin Spacey??? I liked how this built up not only to recruiting of the students, but also to realization of what's important to them. Kevin Spacey is conniving in his supporting role and makes me remember his line from a previous time "I rule!" I enjoyed the performances and although the storyline was rushed at times, it was still good for relaxing entertainment....more info
  • Story embellished, but still it is an interesting idea and film
    Based on the novel "Bringing Down the House", "21" is about five M.I.T students who, along with their teacher (who is ringleader), concoct a plan to count cards, forming a secret "study" group where they practice their skills and signals before heading to the big stage of Las Vegas. Ben first rejects, and then ultimately accepts the invitation to join, for the reason of getting enough money to get to med school. Ben, who wows his instructor (Kevin Spacey) with his knowledge of numbers and probability, quickly becomes the leader for the group, but once in Vegas, becomes seduced by the glamour, thrill and rush it brings. He becomes a polar opposite person from his mundane, nerdy existence in Boston, where his two friends begin to suspect that something has changed him. Ben forgets advice given to him by his instructor of not giving into his emotions, that their plan is not to gamble, but to count. Predictably, Ben falls for one of the girls in his study group (Jill), betrays his friends, and becomes reckless; all the while the eye in the sky (Laurence Fishborne) is watching his group on surveillance. Without giving too much away, the focus shifts to what will happen if and when the group gets caught, will Ben save his friendship, and will he be able to save enough for med school.

    While the story is interesting, plot logic and obvious and blatant embellishment of the M.I.T story (which it is based on) gets so far-fetched that the movie may be rendered partial fantasy. For one, why did the group decide to go to the same casino every time, with the same head of security (Fishborne) watching him from above? Being that Las Vegas has at least twenty casinos, you would think these whiz kids would catch on to that. Also, I was a bit perplexed by Fishborne's character "roughing up" guys who he suspected were counting, as if he were some mafia boss. As far as I know, counting cards is frowned upon, and you might get asked to leave, but not illegal, and security certainly wouldn't come barreling out of their office full force and tackle suspecting counters, taking them up to their office to beat up. (If I'm wrong, enlighten me). Another criticism is the overacting. Not only does Fishborne's character borders on lunacy, but Kevin Spacey's does also, being way over the top as well, spewing out instructions and threats to anyone turning their backs on him, or failing to carry out his plan. The ending was a bit logic-defying as well, only dreamed up in a screenplay, not in real life. It seems to me that if the writers/directors would have done a little more homework on this subject, the movie might have been spared some walloping by critics.

    All in all, it was a mixed bag. The idea of teams going to Vegas to try to beat the system is an engaging one, and the psychology and thrill of the game is what kept my interest. If you are too much of realist, you might be a little disappointed. Normally logic in film is my pet peeve, but I was able to set it aside just because I found the subject fascinating, and despite several flaws, it was a fun film that was well-paced and held my attention. It's also the kind of flick that will get people talking after they see it, which is usually a good thing.

    3 ? stars


    ...more info
  • 21 A Good movie
    There is only one Las Vegas movie out there that is worth five stars and that's Martin Scorsese's Casino with Robert Deniro.

    I saw the trailer couple of months ago before going to see it. And From what the preview was showing it was going to be a slack buster. But as it turns out this movie is very entertaining, and very well acted. If you want a good movie that will keep you going, I strongly recommend you see this both to buy or rent.

    It has some awesome scenes and a good little twist at the end. Very good film. 4 stars...more info
  • 5 star film.....
    "21" is a good movie!

    Don't listen to the bad reviews here. Wow, so many of them. Apparently they are out to pick movies apart and point out all the minor flaws.

    "21" is based off the book, "Bringing Down the House" by Ben Mezrich. Yes, it is a true story. No, the movie obviously doesnt follow the book exactly. They want to make money like everyone else. The movie is all "hollywood" with cons, set ups, snappy lines and hot chicks! Yes, alot of the movie is made up, who cares, its a movie and a good one.

    I've read the first 100 pages of "Bringing Down the House", its similar to the movie, but not as much fun. In the book, the teacher and most if not all the students are Asian! The book couldnt keep my attention, but the movie is alot of fun.

    Dont pass up "21" based on the bad reviews, Kevin Spacey is great, Laurence Fishburne is well Laurence Fishburne and Jim Sturgess is excellent!...more info
  • Young and reckless or is it young and responsible?
    Entertaining movie about a group of MIT students and their professor who plan to take down Las Vegas casinos by playing black jack and counting cards. This group of young people are all talented and smart and they all have big dreams. But they come from humble background and in the new world where schoilarships are limited and it takes more that 4.0 GPA and extracurricular activities to get them, the only thing left for them is to play cards for money in hopes they save enough for their medical schools board and tuition. I like the fact that film is not trying to preach what the high moral ground should be in those types of situations, but rather focuses on how certain types of success can change the nature of human beings, nature of friendship and the shift of power. Kevin Spacey is great in his role of the professor who scopes, trains and "invests" in his gambling student talent....more info
  • Predictable and boring really
    This could have had so much more but poor boy wants to have enough money to go to medical school. Has an aptitude for counting cards. You can fill in the rest. Its predictable and not very exciting....more info
  • Pure Hollywood and a lot of fun, but unrealistic, even though based on a true story
    Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a brilliant MIT student on his way to Harvard Medical School. He's already been accepted, but the money is an issue. Ben is up for a full scholarship, but so are 76 other people, and he has spent so much time studying, he's had little opportunity for the "life experience" the scholarship board seeks from that one "dazzling" candidate that deserves the $300,000 free ride.

    So, when his Nonlinear Equations professor, Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey), recruits him to his team of other brilliant students to count cards in Las Vegas casinos, he reluctantly accepts -- on the condition that once he's earned the three-hundred grand, he's out.

    Spacey is electric as Professor Rosa, but it's Sturgess's work as Ben Campbell that grounds this flight of fancy in reality. He is instantly likable, and his troubles are relatable, even though few people have actually experienced them. Laurence Fishburne also has a nice turn as ultra-intimidating security man Cole Williams, a man who does whatever it takes to keep his job in an increasingly computer-controlled arena.

    Though it's supposedly based on a true story, 21 is pure Hollywood all the way. From its underprivileged hero given the opportunity of a lifetime, to its instant inclusion of the hero's dream love interest (here Kate Bosworth), to how Ben drops his geek friends once he gets the chance to hang out with cooler people, to how the student surpasses the teacher.

    The first portion of the movie is so predictable, in fact -- and so spelled-out for the general audience -- that it's a struggle just to get through to the interesting portion: the actual Vegas scenes. As a whole, however, 21 is a lot of fun, and I was surprised at how much I thought about it after it was over, especially that insipid but catchy phrase, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner." ...more info
  • Glamorous does not equal better
    The story of how several MIT students were able to beat Vegas at their own game is compelling and entertaining. Unfortunately, it's told in a book titled Bringing Down the House not this movie. While based on the factual account of extremely bright card counters who devised a system capable of generating a very favorable win ratio in Black Jack, 21 delivers very little of that true story. Instead, it focuses on sensationalizing elements of the story and dramatically over simplifying others. It provides a glamorous but empty portrayal of characters who in real life were very interesting and intelligent.

    Card counting, as represented in this movie, hardly requires anything more than an average IQ and the ability to count quickly, not the gifted mind of a top MIT student. Frankly, this has been simplified so that the viewer is able to grasp the key concepts; not a bad idea in itself since not everyone is a gifted mathematician, but they've gone too far and left the viewer wondering what, if anything, makes the protagonist Ben Campbell or any of his cohorts special. As portrayed in 21, it seems that anyone could practice counting cards in their basements for several months and then go make unlimited amounts of money in Vegas. There are ways to make material accessible to the audience without over simplifying it to the level of silliness. The Paper Chase is a good example of how to do this tastefully.

    Over simplification is not the only issue in 21. Other elements have been made glamorous where unnecessary, sometimes with a level of implausibility that is laughable. The worst of these would require providing spoilers, but there are a few worth mentioning. First, these wildly intelligent card counters, led by a street-smart proffer played by a well cast Kevin Spacey, are always frequenting night clubs, sleeping in luxury casino penthouses, and in general drawing massive amounts of attention to themselves, all while purportedly trying to stay under the radar of the Casinos and their eye-in-the-sky security experts. This is ridiculous. Not even Lawrence Fishburn's entirely convincing and frightening portrayal of an old-school casino security chief can save this movie from dreary implausibility. Second, the interplay between the students are based on silly cliche. These same 'brilliant' students cannot seem to remember their own basic set of rules, or even follow basic Black Jack strategy when they are either fatigued, angry, etc... That is a blatant, undercutting reversal of what is supposed to make them who they are: an icy ability to calculate odds and stick to a system.

    Spacey and Fishburn make the movie less of an ordeal, but they're not enough to save this one from itself. Some of the dialogue is pretty interesting, especially the interplay between the protagonist Ben and his cut-throat professor. The psychological underpinnings of the relationships between Ben, the professor, and the former premier card counter whom Ben has supplanted could have been a dramatic gold mine, but these interactions are left on the sidelines in a movie more concerned about driving the plot forward than telling a great story.

    Overall, 21 is worth watching simply because its the next closest thing to the excellent book on which it is based. This is a rent not a buy. 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 because of Spacey and Fishburn. ...more info
  • cool movie
    the movie was great,, and its based on a true story,, so cool !! ...more info
  • by 3 stars i actually mean 2.5 stars
    The best (and most realistic) part of this movie was when the guys were playing basketball and were playing out of breath and just passing the ball around. Its how nerds play b'ball. I was kind of disappointed because you didnt learn any tricks or techniques. Spacey's character was a little too monotone and uninvolved and Bosworth's hair was a hot Dumb and Dumber bowl without the bangs mess. 21 is something you watch to see events unfold.

    Plot: This guy needs $300k for Harvard Medical School. He has an $8/hour job. Spacey's character is a teacher who invites him to count cards at blackjack and go to Vegas to win some cash. The students use hand signals to say whether a table is hot or cold (one of the hand signals is really obvious it almost looks like a baseball play). Small twists and turns exist that make the movie not incredibly obvious to watch. The acting is just so-so and there were no incredibly cool, whiz kid, "ballin" scenes.

    A GOOD gambling movie is Rounders. ...more info
  • Maths made sexy
    Maths and card-playing do not seem to be subjects to light up the screen with energy, but the director here has a fair stab at doing just that.
    `Inspired' by a true story, an epithet which presumably allows them great license with the facts, we follow the seemingly nerdy but brilliant Ben Campbell. He is an MIT student desperate to get funds for his Harvard aspirations, and falls in with a group of students who win large amounts of money by `card-counting' at Blackjack in Vegas, led by their maths professor (Kevin Spacey). We see his gradual corruption as the girls, money and high rolling lifestyle lure him to push himself further. And then of course, things start to unravel. Unfortunately, the story does not explore the moral murkiness of the events very far, and still manages to drag things out just a little longer than it might have. Still, the pace is peppy, the direction as energetic as the subject can let it be, showing an improvement on the director's previous fare `Mother-in-Law' and `Win a date with Ted Hamilton', and has a decent soundtrack to keep momentum up.
    The cast all perform acceptably, with Kevin Spacey hardly stretching himself but still successfully filling out an important part. Kate Bosworth looks stunning no matter which disguise she is wearing, and Jim Sturgess as Ben makes the transition from na?ve nerdy wannabe to cocky highroller and finally to `wiser-than-his-years' young man.
    All told, a young sexy cast, veteran actor for gravitas, and a soupcon of moral ambiguity make for an entertaining and worthwhile couple of hours, but falls short of being inherently memorable. (6/10)
    ...more info
  • It may be fun, but it sure is empty...
    In the long running tradition of films that lack substance yet make up for it in fun, `21' works quite well, delivering a thrill ride movie experience that is entertaining and engaging even if it is nothing we haven't already seen a hundred times before. With palatable performances and a decent flow of action, `21' tries very hard to reach its target audience (rebellious teenagers) and in that regard it hits the nail on the head. If you are looking for a more intelligent look at this true story then you may be let down, since this movie is purely superficial and exists only to rake in the money.

    The film tells the story of math genius Ben Campbell who's dreams of getting into college ride on the chance to snag a scholarship, a scholarship that he deserves but most likely won't receive. His mother has saved up all her money to give him for tuition, but he doesn't want to take her savings (he's a saint of sorts). That's when he gets a proposition, to join a secret team of similar math geniuses who train to count cards and then let loose in Vegas under the watchful eye of their professor Micky Rosa.

    So the film is really little more than a small group of good looking teens gambling and drinking and partying.

    Like I said; money maker.

    I really felt that `21' would have a little more substance, beings that the story is so engaging, but they totally went the sell out route with this one, making it nothing more than a random collage of everything you would find in a teen movie. That isn't to say it isn't entertaining, because it is, but it's the type of pointless entertainment you can find almost anywhere. They try and play the whole morality card, but even that attempt is halfhearted and feels a little dead.

    The performances are actually pretty good, especially from the older actors in the film. Kevin Spacey is pitch-perfect as the `hidden agenda ridden' professor Rosa, and Laurence Fishburne (who I tend to find stiff) is flawless as the hard edged security man trying to hunt down the casino's heavy hitters. The group of youngsters is pretty decent, standouts being Sturgess and Yoo. I usually really like Bosworth (I adored her breakout performance in `Blue Crush') but here she is stale to me.

    This is not your typical biopic; it's your typical teen Blockbuster. Watch it for the sheer entertainment value but don't expect to really care too much. There is a slew of much better, far richer Blockbuster fare released this very year. Even the superhero movies released this year have more depth than this missed opportunity....more info
  • Good Movie, kept me guessing the ending.
    I thought this was a great movie. Not sure if I would buy it, but would rent again. Shocking ending, decent cast and every few minutes something unexpected happened. ...more info
  • Very good!
    I really enjoyed this movie. The acting was great, and the storyline kept me interested throughout the whole movie. I have watched it 5 times so far it just keeps getting better and better with each viewing!...more info
  • 21
    This movie looks great in the Blu-Ray format. The Las Vegas scenery is gorgeous. The story is interesting and the characters are believable.
    ...more info
  • Slick &Entertaining, But Far From Reality
    I enjoyed the movie because it was entertaining all the way. It was slick and had interesting characters. The only problem was the last half of it where credibility when flying out the window. The movie is all about supposedly very intelligent people, led by the smartest of the all the group, the only veteran in this college age-dominated cast: "Professor Mickey Rosa," played by Kevin Spacey. Well, Rosa would not do what he did here, for starters, meaning trusting an untrustworthy and revenge-seeking kid. If you've seen the movie you know what I mean. The others in the group wouldn't go along with the renegade - "Ben Campbell" (Jim Sturgess) - either. There is no way this kid is going to totally outsmart the professor, but it makes for good Hollywood dramatics.

    There are a bunch of other holes, too, such as wanting to be anonymous but going back to the same place; a ridiculous chase scene through the casino gambling area and kitchen; hand signals that a junior detective could see (and are never changed!) and - maybe the worst - winning tons of money in sessions. Nobody with half a brain would win much at any session, because it draws attention. You win a little here, a little there and go from place-to-place and remain anonymous. This movie is based on a true story, and I can guarantee you that's what the MIT students did in real life - not what you see here.

    Still, facts aside, it's still a fun movie to watch and since entertainment is the name of the game with films, it succeeds and I still give it an "8" star rating for that. At no time was I bored and overly insulted at the dumbness that I would have stopped playing the DVD. It will hold your interest and you'll be thoroughly entertained, especially if you don't know a lot about blackjack and how casinos operate.

    Oh, as a postscript: they don't beat up "card counters" in back rooms of casinos. If they think you are counting cards, which I don't believe is illegal, they still have the right to kick you out of their establishment.....but they ask you nicely and you are removed from the floor with no big scene or violence. They have your picture, there are security people everywhere, and you aren't allowed back.

    So, enjoy the film but don't believe the screenplay.
    ...more info
  • 3 Stars Good but not Great
    Many of the other reviews talk about the storyline but I am writing this just as one man's opinion. 21 was a fun movie to watch. There is nothing extremely captivating about the movie. I was honestly more enthusiastic to watch the movie than I should have been. Something about the story line of going to Vegas to beat the odds is fun and it gets the addreniline pumping even as you watch but in the end you know it will come crashing down.

    The bottom line about this movie is that it has a decent story line and is entertaining. 3 stars is a perfect rating because although I would recommend it to most people, if you have something else you have been really wanting to buy then buy that movie instead of 21...more info
  • Card Counting in Vegas
    A movie that is lightly based on a true story of MIT students counting cards in Las Vegas to pay their way through college.

    On a positive note, this movie was cute and the acting was great. I love Kevin Spacey. The ending had a couple of twists and turns that I didn't see coming, and it made me smile at the end.

    On the other hand, it was just a little ho-hum. Nothing spectacular. I think it could have been a little more exciting and visual....more info
  • Definitely a chicken dinner of a movie...
    I really really liked this movie. It was different, it was interesting, it was fun. And it was based around real events. Kevin Spacey is like icing on the cake, he did a great job. I was surprised I like this one so much, it was a little bit of a hidden gem for me. I watched it basically because I wanted something and it was available :) It kept my attention and the math/cheat stuff kept me complete enraptured. Awesomeness!...more info