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21 (2008)

aka 21

"They proved the Vegas Blackjack System was beatable...by beating the hell out of it."

Directed By: 
Details: 123 mins · English · PG-13 (USA)


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Small Ben Campbell
Small Micky Rosa
Small Jill Taylor
Small Cole Williams
Small Choi
Small Kianna
Small Fisher
Small Terry
Small Miles Connoly
Small Cam
Small Kartengeber
No_movie_poster Bob Phillips
No_movie_poster Ellen Campbell
No_movie_poster Stemple


No_movie_poster Michael De Luca Producer
No_movie_poster Francine Maisler Casting
No_movie_poster Missy Stewart Production Design
No_movie_poster Russell Carpenter Director of Photography
No_movie_poster Elliot Graham Editor
Small Brett Ratner Executive Producer
No_movie_poster William S. Beasley Executive Producer
No_movie_poster Allan Loeb Screenplay
No_movie_poster Robert Luketic Director
No_movie_poster Peter Steinfeld Screenplay
No_movie_poster Luca Mosca Costume Design
Small Dana Brunetti Producer
No_movie_poster Ben Mezrich Novel
No_movie_poster Ryan Kavanaugh Executive Producer
No_movie_poster David Sardy Music
Small Kevin Spacey Production
No_movie_poster Ben Mezrich Story Contributor
No_movie_poster Elliot Graham Editing


"They proved the Vegas Blackjack System was beatable...by beating the hell out of it."

"What an age."

"Alone, confused and about to graduate."

"And suddenly, there was Vegas."


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) senior math major Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is accepted into Harvard Medical School but cannot afford the $300,000 fee. Despite a 44 MCAT score and top grades, Ben faces a fierce competition for the prestigious Robinson Scholarship that would pay entirely for the medical school. The director tells him that the scholarship would go to the student who would "dazzle" him.

At MIT, professor Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) challenges Campbell with the Monty Hall problem, which he solves successfully. After looking at Campbell's score on his latest non-linear equations paper, on which he got 97%, Rosa invites Campbell to join his blackjack team, which consists of fellow students Choi, Fisher, Jill, and Kianna. Despite being told by Rosa that he had already gotten into the Harvard Medical School, Campbell refuses to join the team on the premise he had been promoted at his job. Next day, Jill visits Campbell at his job and attempts to coax him into joining the team. The system involves card counting, and the team is split into two groups. "Spotters" play the minimum bet and keep track of the count. They send secret signals to the "big players", who place large bets whenever the count at the table is favorable. Campbell reluctantly joins the team, telling Rosa he is only doing so until he can pay for medical school.

Rosa takes the team to Las Vegas over many weekends; Campbell comes to enjoy his luxurious lifestyle as a "big player" there. His performance impresses Jill—who develops a mutual attraction with him—and Rosa. However, Fisher becomes jealous of Campbell's blackjack success. Rosa kicks a drunken Fisher off the team after he insults Campbell and incites a melee, requiring the team to scramble to cash in their stock of chips before the casino swaps out (a common practice after a fight). Meanwhile, security chief Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne) monitors the blackjack team, particularly Campbell.

Campbell, distracted by blackjack, does not complete his part of a project for an engineering competition, estranging him from his pre-blackjack friends. During the next trip to Vegas, an emotionally distracted Campbell continues playing even after he is signaled to walk away, losing $200,000. An angry Rosa leaves the team and demands that Campbell repay him for the loss. Campbell and his three remaining teammates agree to go into business for themselves; Williams, however, apprehends Campbell, beats him up, then lets him go after a dire warning.

Campbell learns that he has been given an incomplete for Rosa's class and, therefore, will not graduate, and that his winnings have been stolen from his dormitory room. He suspects that Rosa is behind the events but has no evidence. Campbell reconciles with his friends and Jill, and approaches Rosa with an offer: he and the team will hit Vegas for one more attempt before the casinos install biometric software that will quickly identify card counters, as long as Rosa, once a very successful "big player", also plays.

Disguised, the team returns to Planet Hollywood and wins $640,000 before fleeing with their chips from Williams and his men. Campbell and Rosa split up, with Rosa taking the bag of chips. Rosa escapes into a livery cab with the intention of stealing the winnings, but finds his bag is full of chocolate coins and that the casino manager is driving Rosa's cab.

Williams had made a deal with Campbell after beating him up: he would let Campbell come to Vegas for one night to make a lot of money gambling in exchange for Rosa. Rosa had won a seven-figure sum at Williams's casino by counting cards, a feat that cost Williams a pit boss job. After capturing Rosa, Williams confronts Campbell and demands at gunpoint the bag of chips for his retirement; after giving up the money, Campbell rejoins his friends and pre-blackjack friends, who have, in fact, been counting all night themselves. The film closes with Campbell recounting the entire tale to a "dazzled" Harvard director.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 2008-03-28 : United States of America