21 is about a talented student who joins a team of card counters with an infallible system to win Blackjack. It’s inspired by the real events and people who took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings! Let’s consider the pros and cons of 21…
Pros: Jim Sturgess is believable as an intelligent young student who is motivated to get into Harvard Medical School. With tuition costing $300,000 and the scholarship counselor encouraging him to share an incredible story, Ben goes against his better judgement and starts counting cards. Kevin Spacey plays Micky, the involved teacher that fosters the talented students capable of pulling off such an operation. The movie hits it’s stride when Ben embraces his gift and begins learning how to count cards. There’s a well placed montage upon Ben’s first visit to Vegas that perfectly encapsulates the high-roller vibe that only casinos on the Strip can offer!
Cons: Maybe this is based on real life because there are more than a few questionable character decisions that happen. For instance, Ben seems to struggle with the morality behind counting cards, but not only is it an easy answer for his financial situation, it also comes hand delivered by his school crush. I’m not saying he ultimately makes the right decision to join the team, but he is only human after all. Micky’s decision to return to Vegas with his students after getting revenge on them is also pretty suspect.
I give 21 a B-. It’s an engaging story with suspense and thrills, making it an enjoyable watch for fans of gambling. And don’t forget, the house always wins. Happy watching!
“You weren’t counting, you were gambling!”