Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

"21" is the fact-based story about six MIT students who were trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1,975 ( 179)
1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Eagle Eye (2008)
Action | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Jerry and Rachel are two strangers thrown together by a mysterious phone call from a woman they have never met. Threatening their lives and family, she pushes Jerry and Rachel into a series of increasingly dangerous situations, using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move.

Director: D.J. Caruso
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson
Disturbia (2007)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A teen living under house arrest becomes convinced his neighbor is a serial killer.

Director: D.J. Caruso
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Carrie-Anne Moss
Vantage Point (2008)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The attempted assassination of the American President is told and re-told from several different perspectives.

Director: Pete Travis
Stars: Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Matthew Fox
Phone Booth (2002)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Stuart Shepard finds himself trapped in a phone booth, pinned down by an extortionist's sniper rifle.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland, Forest Whitaker
Flightplan (2005)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A bereaved woman and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet, the child vanishes, and nobody will admit she was ever on the plane.

Director: Robert Schwentke
Stars: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean
S.W.A.T. (2003)
Action | Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

An imprisoned drug kingpin offers a huge cash reward to anyone that can break him out of police custody and only the LAPD's Special Weapons and Tactics team can prevent it.

Director: Clark Johnson
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez
Wanted (2008)
Action | Crime | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A frustrated office worker learns that he is the son of a professional assassin, and that he shares his father's superhuman killing abilities.

Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Stars: Angelina Jolie Pitt, James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman
Drama | Fantasy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The music of the Beatles and the Vietnam War form the backdrop for the romance between an upper-class American girl and a poor Liverpudlian artist.

Director: Julie Taymor
Stars: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally.

Director: F. Gary Gray
Stars: Donald Sutherland, Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton
The Recruit (2003)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A brilliant young CIA trainee is asked by his mentor to help find a mole in the Agency.

Director: Roger Donaldson
Stars: Al Pacino, Colin Farrell, Bridget Moynahan
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A guy who complains about God too often is given almighty powers to teach him how difficult it is to run the world.

Director: Tom Shadyac
Stars: Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Danny Ocean rounds up the boys for a third heist, after casino owner Willy Bank double-crosses one of the original eleven, Reuben Tishkoff.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon


Cast overview, first billed only:
Helen Carey ...
Jack Gilpin ...
Donna Lows ...
Planet Hollywood Dealer
Butch Williams ...
Planet Hollywood Dealer
Ben Campbell ...
Planet Hollywood Dealer Jeff (as Jeffrey Ma)


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 matt-282

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Inspired by the true story of five students who changed the game forever. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence, and sexual content including partial nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 March 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

21 - The Movie  »

Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$24,105,943 (USA) (28 March 2008)


$81,159,365 (USA) (16 May 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Kevin Spacey, as part of their research for the film, they took some of the real players who was on the original team to Vegas. Although they weren't allowed to play, every time they wanted Spacey to up his bet, they would push up against his chair. He said, "I would win every time!" See more »


During the opening scene montage, when Ben is riding his bike across the bridge, the position of his backpack changes several times. See more »


[first lines]
Ben Campbell: [narrating] 'Winner, winner, chicken dinner.' Those words had been dancing around my head all night. I mean, it's Vegas lore, that phrase. Just ask any of the old-time pit bosses, they'll know. It was a Chinese dealer at Binion's who was first credited with the line. He would shout it every time he dealt blackjack. That was over 40 years ago, and the words still catch. 'Winner, winner, chicken dinner.' Yeah, try it. I had heard it at least 14 times that night. I couldn't lose. First...
See more »


Features V for Vendetta (2005) See more »


Tender Buttons
Written by Patricia Keenand and James Cargill
Performed by Broadcast
Courtesy of Warp Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A movie that bet the house and came out busted
31 March 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Unfortunately for audiences going to see the new movie "21," the producers of the film didn't adhere to that all important Vegas slogan that gives reprieve to the city of sin: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." In the case of the new movie that follows a team of Blackjack card counters, the story should've been left alone in the book it was based on and never graced the silver screen. Unlike other films of Las Vegas lore, "21" didn't feature such grittiness like that of "Casino" nor the charming wit of "Ocean's Eleven." What the film did feature, however, is monumental melodramatic moments and lackluster directing that had me struggling to keep that $10 soda I bought from squirting out my nose. In fact, the only redeeming quality of the film was the end, which came only after an excruciatingly slow two hours.

The story, based on the bestselling book "Bringing Down the House," hinges on Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) as a quiet MIT undergraduate who lacks the resources to attend Harvard Medical School. It is only after he is invited to join an established team of card counters that Ben sees a way to raise the $300,000 he needs to pay his way to becoming a doctor. The team features four other students, including Ben's schoolboy crush Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), and is lead by MIT professor Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey). Ben finds himself to be a whiz kid at this card counting business and starts raking in the cash, meanwhile abandoning his best friends (one played by Josh Gad channeling an unfunny version of Jack Black) and his studious lifestyle of old. Shenanigans prevail and sooner or later, Ben finds himself in deeper than he can handle.

Where the film falls flat is undeniably in it's writing. There's an old Hollywood adage that says you can't make a good movie out of a bad script and this is no more true than in the case of "21". The film seems to force the concepts behind card counting and blackjack on the audience through unnatural speeches that divulge too much of the info through the dialogue. For instance, Campbell is explained how Blackjack is played early in the movie, but this crash course of game rules seems more intended for the audience than for Ben and thus it fits weirdly in the movie. The script also is chock full of one-liners that fall flat on their face. The opening line is "winner, winner, chicken dinner" and there are other magical nuggets of word wizardry sprinkled throughout like "you were born for this," or "In Las Vegas, you can become anyone you want." And not to mention that the nerd jokes - "We almost had a girl at our party!" - become decreasingly funny after the second one.

The movie also seems to suffer from a cinematic and directorial standpoint. Director Robert Luketic, whose other efforts include "Legally Blonde" and "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton," doesn't know when to stop using slow motion. The movie probably wouldn't be, or feel, as long as it did if there hadn't been such a ridiculous amount of slow motion. There was slow motion everywhere to the point where it became so diluted and lost its power as a device. Luketic also decides to sprinkle in heavy use of montage that, when juxtaposed to the melodramatic scenes in between, serves only to remind of the touching scene in "Zoolander" that results in a montage of frappuchino drinking and gas fighting.

"21" tries to be complex in its story and its themes and motifs but along the way it forgot what it should've been about – a team of young geniuses scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars from Las Vegas super casinos. Instead, the film spends much of it's time trying to elevate itself above a generic heist movie. The mistake in this, however, is that most moviegoers are there to see a heist movie. Luketic devotes so much of the 2 hour running time trying to build up Ben's world to the audience that the money making card counting scheme gets relegated to slow motion montage.

There was little that I enjoyed about "21" save for the bright neon lights of the Las Vegas strip making for some beautiful shots of the glowing city. It's a shame that the film came out as it did because it featured a cast capable of so much more and a story that had potential to dazzle audiences. But instead, the movie lost itself in trying to be more than what it was and transformed into a monster of bad pacing and over emphasized emotions. "21" was trying to bet the house but unfortunately for itself and audiences alike, it only came out busted.

13 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Does Ben's choice about Door 1 or Door 2 matter anymore? aly-bukhari
Why counting is illegal? jazu3
do they play according to the rules? Hansen-F
Serious question about Monty Hall (NOT 66 vs 50%) the_carn
Gameshow door odds anthony85uk
So Why Do They Keep Going To The Same Casino? rcar9091
Discuss 21 (2008) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: