21 (2008)
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  • 21 reasons TO SKIP THIS FILM !
    21. The soundtrack is a cacophony of bad music including rap, some folk and modern rock. Soundtrack diversity in film is great when it has some thought and flow is considered such as the album to Pulp Fiction or Smokin Aces, but this is more like a random pick of blare.
    20. Not enough Kevin Spacey, he's on the front of the poster and the DVD cover but he's hardly anywhere in the film, the few appearances he makes could've been shot in a single day.
    19. Laurence Fishburne is so chubby he's unrecognizable he could audition for Chef I don't know if he pounded up for this film but this isn't the Morpheus you're used to.
    18. Cute Kate Bosworth, but not enough of her and NO I DON'T MEAN NUDITY, I mean just not enough of her in the film.
    17. Skip the main character Ashton Kutcher look alike and just get the real Ashton instead, this guy tries too hard to be Ashton and the only thing more annoying than Ashton Kutcher is an actor imitating Ashton Kutcher !!!
    16. There isn't even a decent montage, "...we're gonna need a montage, even Rocky had a montage.." whelp, not this film.
    15. Not enough technical details for the audience nerds, no emphasis on the real technique of the card counting or the surveillance of the casinos.
    14. The characters have about as much depth as pee on a flat rock, there is more time spent developing the strippers than the main cast.
    13. Not enough emphasis on Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne), we can tell he's a struggling businessman and expert at spotting cheats but the audience thirsts for more backstory -does he have a prison record, ex cop, who knows?
    12. The shots of Boston and Harvard are better than any of the panorama of Vegas, there was no effort to show anything about the luster of Las Vegas or even the airport.
    11. You gotta have night-vision goggles to watch this film, the whole thing is shot in strip bars, dark dorms and fading escalators.
    10. There isn't any moral lesson or struggle in this film despite the fact the movie poster lures the viewer into believing there is one.
    9. The rise and fall of the character is pitiful when you watch the devoted nerd main character dump his loyal friends for the new popular card counting kids then comes crawling back when he's dumped by them and their unwinding scheme.

    Reasons #8 - 1, If you still need a reason to skip this film then take a deck of cards with you whether it is in front of the DVD or DVR and play a card game with this junk film as background noise !
    ...more info
  • **1/2 = I found this movie to be a lot of fun.
    I have to say that Jim Sturgess is actually a very handsome guy. He was excellent in "Across the Universe," which made me think: would "21" be a good movie now that he's actually in it. But I would have to admit as well that anything with Kevin Spacey in it is worth seeing. And yes, Kate Bosworth is actually very hot.

    So I rent "21" hoping for some good things. The movie is as predictable as it can be but that's okay. It still is a fun movie.

    "21" is the story of Ben Campell (Sturgess) who is the smartest guy in MIT high school aka Straight A student. His math teacher Micky Rosa (Spacey) teaches him how to play Black Jack and gives him the rules about how to play Black Jack. Ben falls in love with a girl named Jill (Bosworth) and together on weekends, they go to Las Vegas.

    But the biggest criminal in Las Vegas is the idiotic Cole Williams (played by Laurence Fishburne). Cole Williams has the death fist and spies on people playing first come first served basis games of Black Jack. But that's the catch, Ben must try to get rid of Cole Williams ASAP.

    The movie is sure a lot of fun but there could be some rough spots you can add up to. First of all the ending is very predictable. We all knew that Ben was going to get the money to go off to college. So what else can you add up to?

    Laurence Fishburne was actually pretty good. He sure is the devil to beat but at least he's got the whole idea and concept of his character. I'm sure he knows that he follows up to his character more than Kevin Spacey, which Kevin Spacey is doing being rude and an evil menace to Kate Bosworth like he was in "Superman Returns" and that's the weirdest you can get from a sequel.

    I wouldn't say that "21" is a terrible movie, but it's one of those movies that you can venture of into Las Vegas. It's fun, but we've seen movies like that before. We've seen that type of stuff in the Oceans movies and "Casino Royale" only Jim Sturgess doesn't have Sean Connery or Daniel Craig James Bond style.

    Like a lot of films, there is something to catch. And the catch with "21" was that it was a great concept but weak on story and silly on characters....more info
  • Spacey Must Have Been Desparate
    Aweful film! Bad acting and even worse story. To think a group of higly educated college students could play as a team weekend after weekend and not be discovered right away is insulting. Vegas is way too advanced to get conned like this. I realize this is a made up movie, but come on. ...more info
  • HIT ME
    Films about gambling and Las Vegas in particular have always held a certain fascination with the public, culminating with perhaps the ultimate Vegas movie OCEAN'S ELEVEN. But this week we have a release of a film that takes the Vegas movie a whole new direction. Most stunning of all is that it is in part based on a true story.

    TWENTY ONE is the story of Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess), a struggling student at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) who has hopes of attending Harvard Med School. A grade A student with a 4.0 average, Ben is interviewed for a full ride scholarship. All he has to do is present an essay describing a life experience that sets him out above the other several hundred students applying. The problem is he has nearly no life experience.

    That all changes when he starts a class taught by Prof. Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey). During the class, Rosa notices Ben's aptitude with numbers and mathematical equations. In turn, he invites him to join a select group of students Rosa has put together. The reason? Using the technique of counting cards, they plan to make a mint in Vegas at the blackjack tables.

    At first hesitant to do so, Ben finally comes around and joins the group which consists of Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), Choi (Aaron Yoo), Kianna (Liza Lapira) and Fisher (Jacob Pitts). The group learns to not only count cards, they put together a set of signals to let the lead player know which tables are hot and when to move on. When they have it down, they become Vegas bound.

    It runs like clockwork. The tables return them all a tidy profit and back to school they go, only to return weekend after weekend. Along the way a romance develops between Ben and Jill, Choi continues to pilfer tiny items everywhere he goes and Fisher places the entire project in jeopardy with a drunken night at the tables. The result is Fisher gets booted and Ben becomes the big cheese.

    With money coming in like never before, the rush of taking on the tables in Vegas and finding love at last, Ben's life changes but not for the better. Grades become a thing of the past as do his friends. His focus becomes making more and more money until he takes a chance he can't come back from.

    A bad night at the tables results in Micky cutting Ben lose and leaving the team in their hotel room alone. Making the decision to go it alone, Ben gets caught by Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne), the head of security for the hotel casino. Not only does he get caught, Cole has a grudge against an old gambler he lost years ago...named Micky Rosa.

    The twists and turns at the end of the film along with the build up from the start make this a compelling movie that holds your attention from the starting gate. Ben's life riding a roller coaster of lows, highs and a return to the lows makes for an interesting tale that turned out much better than I expected.

    All performances seen in this flick are totally believable from the leads to the secondary characters. While Spacey may have been the "name above the title" in getting this movie made, he doesn't take center stage here, instead opting to work with the ensemble and that is to the benefit of the film.

    Based on the true story of a group of MIT students who actually did take Vegas for a ton of money, though not nearly in the same way shown here for dramatic effect, the film is certain to get the hopes up of gamblers seeking a way to beat the bank. Don't get caught up in that notion as the house is always the favorite. Instead, get caught up in the tale of a group of students led by a charismatic teacher who take a gamble and end up getting more than they bargained for.
    ...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
  • 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
  • cool movie
    the movie was great,, and its based on a true story,, so cool !! ...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
  • Great Blu-ray Movie
    Great movie to add to the collection. Decent extras, great picture & perfect sound quality. Don't waste your time on DVD's anymore -- I buy most of my Blu-ray movies from Amazon. You can't beat 33% off and free shipping!...more info
  • Utterly Contrived Nonsense
    Intelligent film viewers beware:

    Apparently, Ben Mezrich's fantastic, non-fictional account of beating the house -- for real -- in the mid-nineties was not good enough for the makers of this film.

    For some incomprehensible reason, they took a fascinating real-life story, glammed it up, time-shifted it to the present day, packed it full of tired cliches and overused plot devices, and baked up what we have here -- a totally unbelievable, totally silly exercise in film frustration.

    Even good actors cannot save a terrible script. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!? This could have been so smart, so good, just like the freaking book...

    And by the way, the classroom exercise early in the film about a gameshow host and opening the doors makes absolutely no sense to me or my wife. Knowing what's behind the third door does not help you decide which of the two remaining doors is preferred. After door three is opened, the original choice of door number one becomes no more or less likely to win than door number two.

    GET THE BOOK, it's great and might make you smarter. This movie will just make you dumber.
    ...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
  • Damaged Item
    I received the DVD shortly after purchase, only to find out that the case was all broken up as the sender failed to package it correctly. I was disappointed to find this, as I didn't buy a "like new" DVD to receive a broken case in the mail. The sender also told me that he would refund my money which he did, and send me a new copy with a un-broken case. That has been over a month ago and I have not seen the new replacement DVD. The money was refunded, but in my opinion don't offer something to someone you aren't going to follow through on, such as replacing it with a new DVD like I was told!...more info
  • Disappointed with this one
    I went into this with an open mind. I am a huge fan of Kevin Spacey, and he has yet to disappoint me...until this one. This movies premise is great but it was not very believable. These kids are geniuses, yet the go to the same casino and use the same signals for things. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I had high hopes, but they fell, fast....more info
  • Great Vegas Movie!
    I just came back from visiting Las Vegas for the first time and that inspired me to rent this movie. I am very impressed with 21.

    The actors are great. Kevin Spacey is a great actor and he proves it again in this movie. The rest of the cast is great too.

    The Blu-Ray looks great on a 1080p HDTV. Perhaps I just had Vegas fever from just being there but the scenes of the Strip and of the hotels make me feel like i'm right back in Vegas.

    This is a great movie for a Blackjack fan, a Vegas fan, or just a fan of great movies. Highly recommended!...more info
  • I've alwasy liked Kevin!
    Add this one to your collection of fun and easy movies! Kevin won't let you down! :)...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
  • Great Film
    And that's saying a lot, considering I don't watch much in the way of movies anymore. All about a professor and his group of students who go to Vegas to count cards... a way of beating the casino system and coming out ahead. So long as you don't get caught.

    The plot and pacing were good and the characters were both believable and interesting. I really enjoyed 21....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
  • A Stretch and a Yawn
    I'm not sure why I decided to give this movie a chance. I knew from the previews that I wasn't interested. I guess I decided to give it a "gamble." Sometimes you're surprised. Well, this movie fell even below my expectations. It was like watching a CSI-inspired after school special. A lot of glitter and glam and no substance. The lead played by that kid in Across the Universe supposedly has a moral dilemma when asked to join a secretive-math-whiz-cards-scam. What was the big deal? He had a project going on with his best friends? It wasn't convincing at all. Plus all the Vegas hoopla is just so tired now. And so is Kevin Spacey's bad guy shtick....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
  • 21 - a fun Ride while it lasted
    Jim Sturgess plays Ben, a working-class science nerd . He needs to find tuition for Harvard. Along comes his favorite math professor, Kevin Spacey, with an offer of extra credit that pays off in hard cash. The clincher is an invitation from the campus golden girl,Kate Bosworth, to join the team.

    Ben ignores the obvious foreshadowing and joins Team Vegas, a gang of weekend card sharks with seductive double lives. At least until he loses his mentor's money and Spacey turns his charm into a threat.

    Without giving away too much, let me just say, if you enjoy the rush of the fast life, and you also enjoyed the book "Bringing Down the House", give this movie a go. ...more info
  • No Answers in These Cards
    The formula used in Robert Luketic's, 2008 film, "21," breaks down to the least common denominator when it comes to this version of the super-savant geek college student flouting and triumphing over the establishment genre of cinema. Like its predecessors, "21" boasts of the usually plastically attractive cast--Jim Sturgess Across the Universe (Two-Disc Special Edition), Kate Bosworth Superman Returns (Two-Disc Special Edition)--in a glitter fest featuring enough labels and high life to rival this summer's fashionista's dream film, Sex and the City (Movie) [Theatrical Release].

    Unfortunately, the plot fails on numerous levels; the most blatant being its lack of skill in retelling an old tale from a new and upbeat perspective. The lame stereotypical characters under-whelm, leaving as the only vaguely intriguing scenes those where main character Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) masters the card counting strategy and eases through its first on-site beta testing. Enter the `duh' factor as the relatively easy scope of the technique as scantily explained and the excellence of each team member's brainpower simply does not gel and the film breaks down into a routine display of pretty twenty year olds wearing expensive clothing, surrounded by Vegas materialism that advances the theme of consumerism above everything else. Obviously, more is not more in this moral fable. Professor Rosa (Kevin Spacey) could have recruited a group of community college dropouts for this stint rather than wasting the time and wits of America's finest. And none of them needed to be attractive--indeed, I would say the more nondescript the better.

    Personally, I don't see what all the hoopla over Kate Bosworth is about anyway. As the object of all of Superman's desires in `Superman Returns,' I had to wonder whether or not after all his cinematic reincarnations, the man-of-steel had finally reached a myopic middle age where his one-time stellar standards had degenerated along with his in-need-of-Lasik vision. Clearly, Kate Bosworth, as the quintessence of some niche of womanhood that only a frat boy would pedestal-ize, repeats the same performance in "21" as a blank-staring Miss Emotionless that hangs around in bars featuring pole dancers (how does that nonchalance suggest anyone's dream woman?) and indulges in the requisite sex scene amidst the lights of the Strip as a backdrop with the same vapidity (not the sex appeal or drive) of the Natasha Henstridge's character hunting for mates in the film Species [Blu-ray].

    Sadly, my opinion does not alter much with regard to Jim Sturgess, an elfin 20-something Paul McCartney look-alike whose previous appearance as the gender-confused George Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl works far better than his role here as the baby-faced, barely-shaving superior savant who struggles morally with taking a check from his mother for $67K to help pay the $300K bill for Harvard Medical School but has little problem flimflamming as a card shark and lying to fellow geek squad-ers when after multiple all-nighter weekends in Vegas counting cards and winning thousands, he has trouble focusing on their robotically-themed science project. As in all such cautionary tales whose main characters boast the `great expectations' a la Charles Dickens, we are expected to marvel at the transformation from meek and almost socially insipid shoe-shuffling haberdashery clerk to a Vegas mini-whale wielding designer sunglasses and specially tailored suits. However, it does not take a glittering neon-infused marquee with the blas¨¦ needlepoint inscription, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall," nor a GPS system to pinpoint the direction this film heads from the get-go. Indeed, our MIT Pip gets way too big for his handmade britches, eventually getting caught in the crossfire between the angry Lawrence Fishburne, as a casino security expert about to be downsized by a computerized system and cocky Kevin Spacey as the math professor with a get-rich agenda who masterminds the card-counting scheme.

    Bottom line? Director Robert Luketic's film version of the Ben Mezrich expose, Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.i.t. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions [Audiobook] [Cd] attempts an updated morality play where the main character, overwhelmed by an influx of materialism, shirks his friends and his ethics until through the trial of tribulation he realizes that selling his soul leaves him with last season's designer shades and little else. Of course, he comes to grips with it all, but who really cares? If a moral lesson is wanting rent out or purchase the classic Great Expectations (1946) (Criterion Collection Spine #31) starring Sir John Mills for a far better movie-going experience. `21' is so poor, it bores. Not recommended.
    Diana Faillace Von Behren
    ...more info
  • 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
  • You can always count on emotions
    Many critics have found the movie distressed and compromised by the lack of vitality that should be excited by any movie that has Vegas as its stage. Indeed they do not overdraw from a tale that rehearses the usual rut of a good guy forced by circumstances to use his talents to an immoral strain so as to keep up with the rest of the world. The story is based on the book "Bringing Down the House", about the experiences of MIT student Jeff Ma and his team of gambling buddies, yet it deals with situations that both add and detract from the truth and the fiction alike. In the process of translating the narrative as a movie script the story absorbs qualities that feel jaded and ordinary by Hollywood standards, and the sensationalism of the story is depressed by the memory of Ocean's 11 and Casino, movies that have raised the stakes so high 21 flops by comparison. Not to mention the radically simplified version of the "cheating" strategy employed by the students, which seems to be so arithmatically feasible that one wonders why it does not happen more often. And by the way it does happen but to say that it is possible is not saying anything beyond the dreamy subtitle of a Vegas trip.

    The movie does have numerous redemptive qualities, some of which have been so indiscreetly dealt with by most critics it gives credit to the theatregoers who simply discuss movies for fun and not as a professional happenstance. The movie has a subpolt filthy rich with a wealth of psychology that it is unfortunate the leading role went to Jim Sturgess. The star of the team of brains that "plays" the casinos is frightful to watch. This is undoubtedly the worst acting in a leading role in a long time. Emotionally he is a dud; his intelligence never shines through; his panache is invisible; his anxiety mechanical; and his attraction for Jill is melodramatic without the hint of affection and as if it were not enough, his supposed timidity is something we deduce more so by hearsay than by any true acting merit. If reminded of another Boston genius played by Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting" we realize how bad the performance is. And he stands alongside Kevin Spacey, who is in top form as a math professor that recruits the students and schools them on how to take down the house. The wry sarcasm, the coiled irony and the implacable cynicism we have come to admire is delivered with taste as always. He elicits well the emotional farce of a stigmatized, pulverizing, insensitive, crass, demoniacal soulless leader that corrupts and avenges without any notion of a limit ever being entertained. Spacey is fabulous and Laurence Fishburne is far too good for the role dealt him, but as all great actors have time and again reminded us, there is no such thing as a small role. He practically takes over the movie. His struggles and fears, the demons of the past that haunt him and the vengence he craves as a anodyne to a tarrying heartache is impressive. His psychosis is balanced just enough to climax with irresistable loathsomeness, all the while rendered so vitally sympathethic we end up siding with him, to some extent, only to be reminded by the plot that we should not have according to script. And what about Jill? yes the genius gal who is second shafted because of gender by the math prof, she seduces the audience, even Ben (although the acting made us wonder quite a bit). Kate Bosworth emotionally composed performance fits well with the directive of her role. This film reunites her with co-star/director Kevin Spacey and director Robert Luketic. She demonstrates the maturity of an actress scintillatingly beyond the clammy classless fixture of her romantic counterpart. She admonishes Ben on several occassions thereby functioning as a alloy to his instinct and as a monition of conscience, which all american movies must support in some way so as to be rated PG-13, as this one is. Not a scene where she becomes sexy merely by physical disclosure, rather she is sensual because of her aloof poignant approach to rational stirrings. She evades close-ups, she dashes through frames as if by impetus and never loses the momentum claimed from the moment she enters the intricacies of the drama. She deserves a better mate, but the role of Ben is an excessively demanding character to do justice to.

    The outstanding quality of the movie resides in its exploration of the reason/emotion dichotomy. The two spheres seem to be mutually-exclusive until we do indeed approach Shakespearean heights that defy any such garbled psychology. We are brought to economize the sentimental pragmatism that is required of such a narrative by tracing the vulnerability that such a distinction isolates. Please watch the movie again, those of you who've failed to illuminate this aspect of a trajectory that takes us card after card unto a universe where rational dictates are full force countermanded by emotional traces, and the two domains clash and clang to a barely audible cacophany that goes beyond the moral lithanies we often impose on the ethics of a movie. Here there is no such thing. We see Lady MacBeth, we see Iago, we see Othello. There have been few movies that have been able to unearth the benumbing force that these separate universes betray. 21 succeeds in this, more so than the book on which it is based. And the performances of Spacey, Fishburne, Bosworth, and not least Jacob Pitts in the role of Fisher make it a flick worth viewing. The last actor in the aforementioned list, Jacob Pitts, sidled into a minor role that is played flawlessly that storms about with thunderous energy.

    21 has fertile layers, that if one is willing to explore, will yield a chill and lead to question the intellectual quality of emotion and vice versa as a proverbial Shakespearean drama has the stealth to do. And yes Jim Sturgess was legitimate in "Across the Universe", but here we have a star that drags the movies down while everyone else tries to salvage what it may. ...more info
  • This is not bringing down the house
    If your expecting a movie about the book 'Bringing Down the House' you will not be happy about your rental/purchase. I didn't believe the poor reviews at first and so I rented it...I wish I had listened.

    The story is narrated by our main character throughout the film and it is horrible to listen to for both content and the annoyance of his voice.

    They really Hollywooded up the plot, with all the predictable twists and happy-ending everything-is-ok-in-the-end and we-have-learned-our-lesson bull-s...There was just nothing at all that stood out about this movie. They could have replaced BlackJack with any other activity, like skydiving, tennis, or working at a McDonalds and they could have reused much of the script and the plot lines. The second star is because I didn't shut it off part way through.

    Wait until this one makes it to HBO....more info
  • Read the book instead, the truth is much more interesting!
    Entertaining, if predictable, telling of the MIT kids that took millions from Vegas. Having read the book, I can tell how much the story was Hollywood-ized, and none of it was for the better. Still, not a bad movie, and the fact that it was based on non-fiction is cool....more info
  • Movie for Math Lovers!
    This is an awesome movie! I, personally, love watching movies with tons of vengeance in them. 21 puts it to the true test! Don't pass this one up!...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
  • Are You A Gambler?
    This is a very enjoyable movie for any gambler from beginner to pro. Just don't go to the casino after watching it thinking you're going to break the bank....more info
  • Hollywood Turns Math Geeks Into Idiots
    Evidently, MIT teaches math geniuses to cheat Vegas as follows:
    1) Show up with, party with, and sit next to your cheating buddies at every casino every time you show up
    2) Never change your signals; use the same ones every week
    3) Pick hair styles and clothes to draw attention to yourself.
    4) Store your money in the ceiling (evidently MIT seniors have never heard of mutual funds or money markets....or maybe they just dont have those in Massachusetts yet).

    Or perhaps the more logical explanation is this: the screenwriters for this film have absolutely no clue as to what they are doing. Even Spacey's math lectures were idiotic. His topics featured concepts typical in an honors high school course, not in a senior MIT course. He also changed topics every couple of minutes and the new topic had NOTHING to do with the one he was just discussing (Newtons method for approximating roots to difficult non-linear equations led to the three door probability problem...huh?)
    And did anybody notice that everything the kids did was actually legal? The ONLY thing the casinos can do (and this is actually what the real casinos did) is force the kids to leave (with their earnings) and not come back.

    And Ive finally come to the conclusion that Spacey can only play one role. He has played the SAME character in nearly every movie he has done. And this one has career killer written all over it.
    ...more info
  • This movie is alot like blackjack should you stay?
    This movie is a safe bet with no real risks. All the major plot lines are there, nerd likes hot girl, needy guy needs money for med school, do gooder teacher is actually a villan. The problem is that nothing really gets explored. Its like the director does not know if he wants to hit or stay and ends up playing with little risk. The movie flows and the ending was not entirely expected. If you are on the fence about buying this movie ask yourself are you risk taker than go ahead and buy if you stay on a 15 than you should walk away. ...more info
  • Seduced by a gambling system
    One thing that many people in mathematics get 'seduced' by
    is the idea of winning at gambling with a 'system'.
    Since mathematics is really a very 'poor' area
    of scholarship, the temptation is great, since card counting actually works
    to beat the house odds.
    But as some learn too late, the 'house' takes a very dim ( leg breaking)
    view of card counters. This movie of a young man headed for disaster
    and banning from major table gambling is hard for me to watch.
    A gambling addiction is one of the worst diseases that you can have...
    But money does strange things to people, makes friends into enemies
    and lovers into something wildly different. Then brown things
    start flying around......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
  • 21
    I always enjoy gambling movies including the classic ones like "Cincinnati Kid". Although "21" is reasonably entertaining there aren't any stand out performances including from the experienced Stacey or Fishburne. This is a rental unless you have a heavy interest in this take on the six M.I.T. students that counted cards and won millions of dollars from the Vegas casinos. Although certainly worth a look I didn't feel surprised or impressed by anything in the movie. It just seemed like mostly a rehash of "Oceans Eleven" with college students. If you enjoyed this catch "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "Fast and Furious".

    CA Luster...more info