A young and impatient stockbroker is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing.
Ben Campbell is a young, highly intelligent, student at M.I.T. in Boston who strives to succeed. Wanting a scholarship to transfer to Harvard School of Medicine with the desire to become a doctor, Ben learns that he cannot afford the $300,000 for the four to five years of schooling as he comes from a poor, working-class background. But one evening, Ben is introduced by his unorthodox math professor Micky Rosa into a small but secretive club of five. Students Jill, Choi, Kianna, and Fisher, who are being trained by Professor Rosa of the skill of card counting at blackjack. Intrigued by the desire to make money, Ben joins his new friends on secret weekend trips to Las Vegas where, using their skills of code talk and hand signals, they have Ben make hundreds of thousands of dollars in winning blackjack at casino after casino. Ben only wants to make enough money for the tuition to Harvard and then back out. But as fellow card counter, Jill Taylor, predicts, Ben becomes corrupted by greed ... Written by
The sunglasses worn by Laurence Fishburne throughout the movie and at the end by the pool are Randolph Engineering Aviators. See more »
Later in the movie Jill tells Ben the Hard Rock has comped her a suite and asks him if he would like to see it. In the next scene they are in a suite over looking the Bellagio fountains. The Hard Rock is not on the Strip and does not have that view to the Bellagio fountains. The suite is more likely to be in the Planet Hollywood (the old Aladdin) or even Paris. See more »
He says, "Ben, do you want to stay with door number one or go with door number two?". Now, is it in your interest to switch your choice?
Well wait, the host knows where the car is. So how do you know he's not trying to play a trick on you - trying to use reverse psychology to get you to pick a goat?
Well I wouldn't really care. I mean, my answer's based on statistics - based on variable change.
Variable change? But he just asked you a simple question.
Yeah, which changed everything.
[...] See more »
The story of the MIT Blackjack Team is already widely known through a documentary film (Breaking Vegas) and a bestselling book (Bringing Down the House). It's a compelling and dramatic story, but evidently the people behind 21 didn't think it was quite compelling enough. Normally I dismiss the common complaint that a film "wasn't close enough to the book," but in this case it's fully justified.
21 follows the familiar Hollywoodization process: grossly oversimplify the original story, then apply a thick layer of cliché. The techniques used by the MIT team are minimally explained in a few rushed, cursory exposition scenes; the assumption seems to be "why waste time on something audiences are too dumb to understand?" The subtlety and complexity of the real team's approach is reduced to a few obvious hand signals and some clunky verbal code. The producers then lard the story with standard, predictable clichés: the needed scholarship that dangles just out of reach; the protagonist's neglected, geeky friends; the cardboard villain who smokes cigarettes and laments that technology is making him obsolete; the widowed mother who sacrifices to help her son attend medical school; etc., etc., etc. Visual clichés also abound; there are endless aerial shots of the Vegas strip ablaze with neon, and the campuses of MIT and Harvard are depicted as shadowy and dungeon-like (one pompous professor actually has a roaring fireplace in his near-dark office). A lame and implausible "twist" ending ties everything into a neat, tidy bow.
Read the book, or catch Breaking Vegas on cable, and discover how thrilling this story really was.
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