Are you a lover of all things casino? Do you fancy yourself as a bit of a blackjack fiend? Then if you haven’t already, you really need to check out the 2008 film 21.
21 was directed by Robert Luketic, and stars such big Hollywood names like Jim Sturgess, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Bosworth, the now-disgraced Kevin Spacey, Liza Lapira, Aaron Yoo, and Jacob Pitts. It is an American heist film with drama and action undertones. Inspired by a true story of a team of MIT students that scammed the blackjack tables of America and was first told in the best selling book “Bringing Down the House” by Ben Mezrich. As you may or may not know, there are several types of blackjack and these include European blackjack and American blackjack. 21 centres on the American version which is now, by far, one of the most popular casino games in the world. That said, European blackjack is just as fun, so feel free to try both.
The film was a huge commercial success and reached the top of the movie charts in both the US and Canada during its first and second weeks of release.
What is it all about?
The plot centres around a MIT maths genius called Ben Campbell who gets his dream acceptance to Harvard Medical School, but lacks the exorbitant fee of $300,000. Despite having the top scores in his MCAT and general grades, he is up against some serious competition when it comes to vying for the Robinson Scholarship that would pay for the course. When attending an interview for the scholarship, the director tells him that the winning candidate must be someone that can truly dazzle him. Feeling dejected and unable to live up to such an acclaim, Ben leaves with his hopes dashed.
The promise of money
It is then at MIT, a professor takes an interest in him after Ben solves the Monty Hall problem in one of his classes. He then invites Ben to join his special and secretive blackjack team which consists of fellow MIT students. Ben is hesitant at first, but blinded by the lure and promise of money, he decides to give it a go. What ensues is a story of card counting, close calls and drama in the biggest casinos in America. The students all become rich beyond their wildest dreams, but of course, not everything runs smoothly.
This film is a fascinating look at the world of card counting and the fact that this is based on a true story and real characters makes it even more interesting. The critical response was mixed at times, with some particular criticism being directed at some of the casting choices, but on the whole this is a film that is definitely worth a watch- whether you are a blackjack fan or not.