21 movie review


This movie is probably responsible for getting a lot of young people into card counting, as well as popularizing various myths about the strategy itself. It is based on Ben Mezrich’s book Bringing Down the House, which in turn is based on the true story of the notorious MIT Blackjack Team, members of which who still play the game must now enter casinos in crafty disguises if they are to get in at all after being banned from casinos world wide for winning millions through card counting.

Ben Campbell is an MIT student who wants to transfer to Harvard but is unable to pay the tuition fee. While up against fierce competition for a scholarship that would cover his costs, Ben is approached by the eccentric and edgy math professor “Micky” Rosa. Rosa has espied Ben’s talents and soon convinces him to join a team of card counters he is putting together. After intensive training he takes his team to Vegas, where Ben and his teammates soon become engrossed by the success of their heist. The thrills, glamour, and vast winnings corrupt the team. Greed takes precedence over the goals they signed up to attain, and as the profits increase it becomes clear to Ben that not everyone on the team can be trusted.

Especially the student characters are fairly uninteresting and stereotypical, but what makes this film worthwhile are the performances of Kevin Spacey as the ruthless Micky Rosa, and Laurence Fishburne as the head of security who is slowly closing in on the team. If you can appreciate a fast-paced crime caper, this is a film you’ll enjoy.