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
Jim Sturgess' long-time girlfriend at the time was also called Mickey, resembling Kevin Spacey's character Micky. See more »
When Ben is riding his bike on the bridge, a young guy with a lady are passing in the back stage. After this, when a yellow stripped bus passed behind Ben, that young guy and lady disappeared (it seems, they jumped into water) then another lady in white jacket appears who was absent before in the back stage. See more »
'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...
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Slick and polished like a blackjack table, and a complete delight
"21" was the official Opening Night Film of the 2008 SXSW Film Festival. The film is based on the true story of a group of MIT students who use their math skills to "beat the house" at blackjack in the Las Vegas casinos. Robert Luketic ("Legally Blonde") directed the Peter Steinfeld and Allan Loeb adaptation of Ben Mezrich's bestselling book "Bringing Down the House."
"21" is pure Hollywood all the way -- slick and polished, like the wardrobes and personalities inhabited by the kids in their transformation to high rollers. The tight ensemble cast includes Kate Bosworth and Jacob Pitts as team players and Laurence Fishburne as a security chief with a massive dilemma on his hands. But the show belongs to Kevin Spacey as professor Mickey Rosa, mastermind behind the escapade, and Jim Sturgess as Ben Campbell, the reluctant recruit who drives the film as it barrels headlong to a breathless climax.
The script is clever, funny, and worthy of math geeks everywhere, and the widescreen action is as nonstop as that on the casino floor. Spacey is Spacey at his best -- just the Kevin we know, nothing more, nothing less -- and that's good enough. Sturgess, a Brit playing an American here (quite well, by the way), proves that he is destined for stardom in the States.
In the intro to the screening, Luketic explained how Spacey had bought the rights to Mezrich's book, leading to his having to fight to win the actor over and let him direct the film. Memo to Kevin: thank you. And, whatever you do, wait for the end credits. The stunning remix of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is almost worth the price of admission.
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