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Columbia Pictures (Sony)

21 reviews
Critic Score
Metascore: 48 Metascore out of 100
User Score  
6.5 out of 10
based on 28 reviews
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based on 20 votes
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MPAA RATING: PG-13 for some violence, and sexual content including partial nudity

Starring Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Spacey, Liza Lapira, Josh Gad, Aaron Yoo, and Sam Golzari

Ben Campbell is a shy, brilliant MIT student who, needing to pay school tuition, finds the answers in the cards. He is recruited to join a group of the school's most gifted students that heads to Vegas every weekend armed with fake identities and the know-how to turn the odds at blackjack in their favor. With unorthodox math professor and stats genius Micky Rosa leading the way, they crack the code. By counting cards and employing an intricate system of signals, the team can beat the casinos big-time. Seduced by the money, the Vegas lifestyle, and his smart and sexy teammate, Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), Ben begins to push the limits. Though counting cards isn't illegal, the stakes are high, and the challenge becomes not only keeping the numbers straight, but staying one step ahead of the casinos' menacing enforcer, Cole Williams. (Columbia Pictures)

GENRE(S): Drama  
WRITTEN BY: Ben Mezrich (book "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions")
Allan Loeb
Peter Steinfeld
DIRECTED BY: Robert Luketic  
RELEASE DATE: Theatrical: March 28, 2008 
RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes, Color 

What The Critics Said

All critic scores are converted to a 100-point scale. If a critic does not indicate a score, we assign a score based on the general impression given by the text of the review. Learn more...

Rolling Stone Peter Travers
21 drags itself to a climax that puts credulity in splints. So what? In a multiplex of dumb-luck hits, it's a kick to watch Spacey and a gifted young cast use smarts to deal audiences a winning hand.
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Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman
The fun of 21 is the way that this sharp, hyperaware star in the making, his face as readable as a mood ring, pours us into an adrenalized cocktail of fear, desire, and mental buzz.
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Philadelphia Inquirer Steven Rea
21 makes for some slick escapist fantasy. Even if, and because, the fantasy has its roots in something real.
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The Hollywood Reporter John DeFore
Escapist moviegoers happy to live out a flashy fantasy get a brief comeuppance and still walk away from the table with a little something in their pockets.
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Variety Joe Leydon
Picture shrewdly shuffles together attractive young leads, cagey screen vets and a fantasy-fulfillment scenario in a slickly polished package that should appeal to anyone who's ever dreamed of beating the odds.
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TV Guide Maitland McDonagh
A predictable moral tale enacted by blandly pretty young things who bear little resemblance to the average brainiac.
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60 Andrew O'Hehir
Spacey's engaging for a while in one of his patented double-edged, sharky roles.
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Portland Oregonian Shawn Levy
21 isn't insultingly stupid. But there's a gap between what we're told about its characters and what we can see for ourselves, a gap that gets larger and more frustrating as the film goes on.
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San Francisco Chronicle Mick LaSalle
A movie with an irresistible premise that ultimately collapses around the whole issue of motivation. Until it does, this is a thoroughly entertaining picture.
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Christian Science Monitor Peter Rainer
The more moralistic 21 gets, the less enjoyable it is.
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Los Angeles Times Kevin Crust
What might have been a complex story dealing with greed and high-stakes betrayal among the young intellectual elite in America's gaming playground is instead treated as a slick, glossy romp.
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Miami Herald Connie Ogle
Except for Spacey's talent, elements don't add up.
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Premiere Ryan Stewart
There are moments where Spacey and Bosworth have their fun in spite of the film -- they both adopt Southern "characters" as disguises at one point, which is a hoot -- but overall, 21 is a busted hand.
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Chicago Reader J.R. Jones
No movie with Kevin Spacey as a heartless prick can be all bad, but this gambling thriller, based on Ben Mezrich's nonfiction book "Bringing Down the House," hasn't got much else going for it.
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ReelViews James Berardinelli
21 doesn't spin a good enough yarn.
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Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips
21 isn’t pretentious, exactly, but it’s damn close, and in trying to whip up a melodramatic morality tale the film becomes an increasingly flabby slog.
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Seattle Post-Intelligencer Sean Axmaker
A thoroughly ordinary drama of temptation, dubious redemption and easy revenge.
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The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Rick Groen
What a big cheat of a movie. Wanting to be everything to everybody – a tough gambling picture, a revenge-of-the-nerds fantasy, a Vegas caper flick, a sweet little romance, a simple morality tale – 21 is just a bet-hedger dealing from multiple decks, designed to leave you with an occasional tidbit to like but nothing at all to love.
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USA Today Claudia Puig
While not exactly a zero, 21 lags and fails to measure up dramatically.
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Wall Street Journal Joanne Kaufman
Very little adds up in 21.
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New York Daily News Elizabeth Weitzman
The early scenes are flashy fun, and Sturgess (handsome Jude in "Across the Universe") makes a convincing math geek. But the requisite romance and Hollywood-style ending feel as fake as the air allegedly pumped into casinos to revive flagging players
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New York Post Lou Lumenick
A slick, shallow and thoroughly generic caper flick.
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The Onion (A.V. Club) Scott Tobias
Short of counting the cards out loud, these geniuses seem to do everything they can to get caught.
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Washington Post Desson Thomson
The story may be based on real events, but most of it feels patently false.
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The New York Times Manohla Dargis
Greed is good and comes without a hint of conscience in 21, a feature-length bore about some smarty-pants who take Vegas for a ride.
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Austin Chronicle Marjorie Baumgarten
Spacey, whose Trigger Street Productions is one of the film's producers, digs into his role as the story's snarky mastermind and lure, yet it's all the kind of stuff we've seen him deliver in so many movies before.
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Boston Globe Ty Burr
The movie's chief audience, consequently, will probably be gullible and young, responding to the cliches only because they haven't seen them before. They have a word in Vegas for these people: Suckers.
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Village Voice Robert Wilonsky
A movie that wastes a lot of time and money and really, REALLY shoulda stayed in Vegas.
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What Our Users Said

Vote Now!The average user rating for this movie is 6.5 (out of 10) based on 20 User Votes
Note: User votes are NOT included in the Metascore calculation.

Bruce S. gave it a0:
Terrible, terrible film. I saw this at a screening in the UK before it came out, and what a waste of time. If you are an intelligent person who likes to watch films for interesting characters, stimulating logical plots and unforeseen twists then DON'T go see this film. It was basically oceans eleven remade for easy to please teenagers who wouldn't know a good film if they sat through an all night alfred hitchcock festival. Morpheus and Keyzer Soze felt completely out place amongst all the bland young actors, and didn't really seem to give a shit about anything except their check for the movie. And the bland young actors? Well they were bland, especially the lead boy, who was a wimpy little brown noser. Also, the real card counters, who this movie is based on were actually of Asian descent, and the ONLY Asian guy in this film had about 2 lines. It is obvious that the people behind the film didn't think it would sell if they hired Asian actors, and that should tell all you need to know about this film. A manufactured piece of crap, and a fine example of racism in Hollywood. All the people on this forum who gave this movie above 5 are obviously taste-impaired/13 years old. That is all.

Michael r gave it a1:
The biggest travesty is people will see this and think they know the story of the MIT blackjack team. Everything after the training was completely fabricated. Imagine the movie without the beating, Lawrence Fishburne character, and surprise ending because none of it ever happened. I think people are responding so well to the movie because they are assuming it is a true story. Had I not read the book I probably would feel the same however I did read the book and remember thinking how amazed I was they could ruin such an amazing story. The casinos fought back but in LEGAL ways. No one got beat up or had their money stolen. Jeffrey Ma made and kept over a million dollars but he gets audited routinely thanks to the casinos. Amazing true story, too bad the producers decided to be more inspired by Oceans 11 than the book Bringing Down The House. Read the book.

JJ D. gave it a0:
21 is not exactly racist. The re-working of the details to appeal to a broader audience was NOT racist. These were simlpy business decisios. All else being equal, 21 is probably a decent movie. However, the presuppositions upon which the casting decisions were made were indeed RACIST: These business decisions were based upon the presupposition that box-office success of a film is achieved when you have white leads with Asian supporting characters, rather than Asian leads with white supporting characters. Have you thought for a minute about why that is, and what that means in a broader, social sense? Have you thought about what that could mean for your children? Is that something you're willing to accept? Pause here, and think about that for a minute...

Bob K. gave it a9:
Good flick, it required a little suspension of disbelief but it was twisted enough to be enjoyable. Kevin Spacey was excellent, but the rest of the cast could have used some improvement.

Jackie gave it a7:
Overall I definitely enjoyed the movie. I have never played blackjack in my life, but I found myself interested in the game while watching the film. Ive head complaints about character development and complaints about how the students are supposed to be smart and not make stupid decision. BUT--this is a game theyve never played before until they got swept up in the money--they may have brians but that doesnt mean they're not gonna be naive--they dont have the life experience. i wasnt concerned about the lack of character deveopment because i thought they set a good enough stage for Ben (sturgess). I thought it was kind of obvious what each character's personality was like--to have to spell it out would have been tedious. Sorry critics! I liked it!

Cozmik Monkey gave it a5:
I see all the user reviews giving this movie high ratings--saying things like the movie is steady and the critics are simply wrong. These comments, in fact, are fairly inaccurate. The movie is the absolutely predictable, it can't decide who is good or bad, and there are simple, though ultimately trivial, plot wholes. If you think the movie is great, you need to watch real film. It can have it's moments, but this movie which started out as having cheap thrills, ended with having nothing but the typical, everyone is happy ending.

Robert M. gave it a10:
Great movie... Entertaining and captivating the whole way through. The critics are simply wrong.

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