21 - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

21 Reviews

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½ October 22, 2016
Tres bon divertissement sur le blackjack et le comptage de cartes. On reste captive du debut a la fin. Une arnaque tiree de faits reels.
July 18, 2016
When its $300k to get an education then ultimately the only upward mobility available is to cheat the old fashioned way.
½ June 17, 2016
If a great film is a straight flush poker hand, and a terrible film is a high card hand, then 21 is somewhere along the lines of a straight. It's not the best, but it's not the worst. It's simply middle of the line.

There's plenty to like in 21. Robert Luketic's direction is stylish, and meshes well with the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas setting that a majority of the film takes place in. Accordingly, the movie moves at a nice pace, and only slows to a noticeable halt during a handful of scenes. The acting is pretty good across the board, not only from veterans like Kevin Spacey or Laurence Fishburne, but also from younger leads Jim Sturgess and Kate Bosworth. There's also plenty to dislike in 21 though. The main fault is in the script, which suffers from a case of bland characterization and story beats. It's the typical rise-fall study that comes with the heist film genre, and while a admittedly clever twist in the third act tries to shake things up, it doesn't save the entire script from an overwhelming sense of familiarity. It's hard to root for characters when they struggle amid very ideal circumstances (the MIT-attending protagonist's main struggle is the fact that he can't afford to go to Harvard), and so this lack of relatability takes away from any impact that the poker games should have. You never find yourself caring all that much whether these characters are successful or not in their card counting scheme, and that hurts the film a lot. It probably doesn't help that the film doesn't even try to explain how card counting really works, so we as viewers are left in the dark as to what's truly going on.

"Winner winner chicken dinner?" Not quite.
½ June 7, 2016
Something fresh and fun!
February 16, 2016
I was disappointed watching the movie after reading the book. I thought the story in the book was not only very different, but also much better.
December 14, 2015
After watching the trailer, I expected alot from this movie. And it delivered enough. It was a straightforward plot, and with that it was hard to really give it any twists. They threw in a couple, but they were predictable. All around though, it was just a cool movie to watch. I feel like trying to count cards now.
December 10, 2015
"DAZZLING | EXCITING | SPECTACULAR | THRILLING" (88-out-of-100)
December 5, 2015
Nice movie, Full of energy!
½ November 13, 2015
Good performances in an otherwise flat movie.
September 10, 2015
Interesting story about a poor student struggling tio get into Harvard..has its moments..
½ August 28, 2015
Entertaining to a point but oh so disappointing. A great story / concept wasted by bad acting, cinematograph, and melodrama.
August 19, 2015
it was all pretty good it showed how humans are so flawed and so selfish it has a great ending that has a great moral
½ July 27, 2015
"Winner, winner, chicken dinner". Good story, good acting, good camera shots, Overall, pretty good
June 6, 2015
I never quite know how to rate movies when I'm not sure what I was supposed to take from them. But I guess this one was purely for entertainment value with no underlying message or moral. And it did succeed moderately at the entertainment thing, it was fun enough. But I think the deciding factor on 4 stars over 3 was the actors. They weren't given much character depth to work with, but Kevin Spacey and Jim Sturgess still manage to deliver. Whatever happened to Jim Sturgess anyway? I haven't seen him in anything since like Cloud Atlas.
½ May 30, 2015
Assigned watching...
May 16, 2015
Not a bad movie, but not particularly well-made either. I was entertained through the whole movie. Kate Bosworth sucked as usual, but her performance was much better than in Superman Returns. Overall, the movie was ok and might be worth the rental fee.
½ April 30, 2015
Great twist, but predictable.
April 16, 2015
Ben (Jim Sturgess) is trying to get into Harvard Medical School but doesn't have the money. He is told that chances are slim that he will get the full scholarship that is given to one student each year. He realizes that his life has been too easy and that he has no story to tell.

Then his professor (Kevin Spacey) recruits him into his card counting blackjack club. They go to Vegas and try to bring down a few casinos to make loads of money.

As an avid blackjack player it's easy for me to understand what's happening in this movie. They give us insight on card counting strategy. However, if I had never picked up a deck of cards I would have been totally lost watching this movie. It dumbs down the dialogue too much, but then doesn't explain enough details.

That brings me to the ridiculous plot holes in this film. Why are they only hitting up 3 different casinos when they can lessen their chance of getting caught if they do a different casino each time? Also, why are they flying from Boston to Las Vegas each week when Atlantic City is over 2000 miles closer? And there wasn't enough detail explained behind the secret identity concept. Overall, there were too many questions left on the table, so to speak.

But the entertainment value is definitely there. It's suspenseful, it's funny, and it's enjoyable. We like the protagonists and are rooting for them. Except for after we realize that the characters' personalities waver a little too much.

The biggest downfall here is the script and the directing. Both were sloppy. These characters are attempting a heist of sorts--yet they are constantly looking indiscreetly at each other throughout the jobs--perhaps to let the audience in on what's happening. But instead it just feels contrived. And the actors aren't directed to their best potential--besides Spacey who has enough experience to override certain suggestions. But the script needed one or two more rewrites and it would have been tight enough to really work.

With a heist movie we expect it to be slick--which this film failed to do on a couple of occasions. But besides that, it's a fun watch.

Twizard Rating: 75
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