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21 (2008)



Average Rating: 5.2/10
Reviews Counted: 165
Fresh: 59 | Rotten: 106

21 could have been a fascinating study had it not supplanted the true story on which it is based with mundane melodrama.


Average Rating: 4.9/10
Critic Reviews: 36
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 27

21 could have been a fascinating study had it not supplanted the true story on which it is based with mundane melodrama.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 366,549

My Rating

Movie Info

Ben Campbell is a shy, brilliant M.I.T. student who--needing to pay school tuition--finds the answers in the cards. He is recruited to join a group of the school's most gifted students that heads to Vegas every weekend armed with fake identities and the know-how to turn the odds at blackjack in their favor. With unorthodox math professor and stats genius Micky Rosa leading the way, they've cracked the code. By counting cards and employing an intricate system of signals, the team can beat the


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Peter Steinfeld, Allan Loeb

Jul 22, 2008


Sony/Columbia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (167) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (59) | Rotten (106) | DVD (16)

If only director Robert Luketic and screenwriters Peter Steinfeld and Allan Loeb had not opted for glitz. As filmmakers, they're playing for very low stakes.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The whizzo-conceit and slick visual bling do give it an undeniably diverting buzz, yet the movie's cautionary formula shows its hand way before the clunky final reel.

April 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The students are so blandly written this never builds any suspense, though it probably has some value as an empowerment fantasy for debt-ridden collegians.

March 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although it's definitely a fictionalization of a true story, they get the essence of this insanely crazy double life that these kids led as they were breaking the bank in Vegas.

March 31, 2008 | Comment (1)
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Inspired by the real-life story of the M.I.T. students who took Las Vegas casinos for millions, 21 has been reshaped to fit a simple movie template -- and it's nearly as much fun as watching an insurance professional compute actuarial tables.

March 28, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A movie with an irresistible premise that ultimately collapses around the whole issue of motivation.

March 28, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Craps out leaving you wondering how it all went so wrong.

October 24, 2012 Full Review Source: Lyles' Movie Files
Lyles' Movie Files

Too bland, too bright and too long, 21 may talk a big game but it is mainly insipid entertainment.

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

Luketic's dunderheaded, would-be caper is a morality tale where the only moral at stake is the dullard-hero's thoughtless entitlement

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

It's a slick enough movie, with an intriguing enough concept. It would be a much more enjoyable movie, however, if the wheels didn't come off script-wise.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

One can't help but think there was a smarter film to be made from this premise.

March 29, 2009 Full Review Source:

When the movie 21 was announced with Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne, it sounded like a winner. When everybody else involved in 21 was mentioned, it was doomed to be a loser.

February 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Fayetteville Free Weekly | Comment (1)
Fayetteville Free Weekly

As ever with gambling films, it's difficult to convey the thrill of winning at second hand; the human-interest complications are unconvincing and Spacey himself, I'm afraid, is a lugubrious and deadening presence.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Guardian

Spacey makes a nicely chilly villain and Bosworth a warm and glamorous leading lady, if an implausible maths genius.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

Disappointing thriller that's let down by a tedious script, a frankly ridiculous final act and some dodgy overacting by Kevin Spacey.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

This is a prime example of a movie that isn't bad, per se, just unnecessary, a competently made but wholly unremarkable trifle.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source:

See this for the sheer fascination of it.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

Regardless whether there are a number of clichés and plot incongruities, this entertaining and fast-paced flick will find an audience hoping to learn how to beat the dealer.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Entertainment Insiders
Entertainment Insiders

Even though you can predict what happens, 21 is still fairly compelling for a movie about counting cards at a blackjack table.

October 1, 2008 Full Review Source:

It has some decent eye candy, but overall this film is bluffing if they think it's a great, intelligent blackjack film. I know I just used a poker term, but I doubt 21 would have noticed.

August 27, 2008 Full Review Source: The Scorecard Review | Comment (1)
The Scorecard Review

Everyone involved should have known when to fold 'em. The movie is about as interesting as counting cards.

August 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Empty calories, yes, but tasty enough.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Treating card playing as an exciting spectator sport rather than, say, about as thrilling as watching fishing for two hours, this offbeat cautionary tale warns all those impulsive casino-bound eggheads out there, that losers come in all IQ's.

July 23, 2008 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

Much like in Vegas, whatever happened in the book and made it so marvelous stayed in the book.

July 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

It may take a rocket scientist to successfully count cards, but not to wite a smarter script than what 21 delivers.

July 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah) | Comments (2)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

Audience Reviews for 21

One of those movies I saw before I was too jaded to just sit back and enjoy a cliched drama once in a while, I will still defend that there is something worthwhile about "21". Maybe it's the cast, with Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne playing the kind of intimidating roles they were born for. Maybe its the infectious, neon Vegas imagery. Maybe its just the music, or the strippers. "21" kept me engaged the first couple times I saw it, so it must have that potential for others.
August 15, 2013
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

A dynamic cast compiled by the help of one Kevin Spacey. 21 is a swift and smart story that is visually fascinating as it is clever. The film is brought down by the less-than-charismatic drama. Regardless of the uninspiring tone, the film is fair and solid enough to watch and enjoy. 4/5
July 23, 2013
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer

This movie just has so many points at which it should end, but it just keeps going and going and it isn't extremely interesting.
March 11, 2013
Sanjay Rema

Super Reviewer

Gotta love any rags to riches story, and when it deals with gambling and counting cards it's even better. Overall, good fun movie.
December 25, 2012
Eric Alvarez

Super Reviewer

    1. Choi: I gotta walk my dog.
    – Submitted by Rémy C (2 years ago)
    1. Ben Campbell: Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
    – Submitted by Tim K (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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