21

Twenty One

Twenty One

That is fantastic!


Release Date: March 28, 2008
Studio: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Robert Luketic
Screenwriter: Peter Steinfeld, Allan Loeb
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Spacey, Liza Lapira, Josh Gad, Aaron Yoo, Sam Golzari
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some violence, and sexual content including partial nudity)
Official Website: 21-movie.com
Review: 6/10 rating
DVD Review: Not Available
DVD: DVD | Blu-ray Disc | DVD (2-Disc Deluxe Edition)
Movie Poster: View here
Production Stills: View here

Plot Summary: Columbia Pictures’ high stakes action adventure “21” is inspired by the true story of the very brightest young minds in the country – and how they took Vegas for millions.

Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) 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 (Kevin Spacey) leading the way, they’ve cracked the code. By counting cards and employing an intricate system of signals, the team can beat the casinos big time. Seduced by the money, the Vegas lifestyle, and by his smart and sexy teammate, Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), Ben begins to push the limits. Though counting cards isn’t illegal, the stakes are high, and the challenge becomes not only keeping the numbers straight, but staying one step ahead of the casinos’ menacing enforcer: Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne).

Trailer (11.16.07):
QuickTime/Flash Player, Various

International Trailer (1.29.08):
QuickTime, Hi-Res
QuickTime, Med-Res
QuickTime, Lo-Res
Windows Media Player, Hi-Res
Windows Media Player, Med-Res
Windows Media Player, Lo-Res

Behind-the-Scenes Clip (2.7.08):
Flash Player (click ‘Videos’)

Clip 1 (3.11.08):
Flash Player

Clip 2 (3.11.08):
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3 Clips (3.11.08):
Flash Player, Various

Exclusive Video Interviews (3.25.08):
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more information from WIKI following this link:

21 is a 2008 drama film from Columbia Pictures. It is directed by Australian director Robert Luketic and stars Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Jacob Pitts, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Yoo and Liza Lapira. The film is inspired by the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team as told in Bringing Down the House, the best-selling book by Ben Mezrich.

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[edit] Plot

MIT senior math major Ben Campbell (Sturgess) is accepted into Harvard Medical School but cannot afford the $300,000 cost. Despite boasting a 44 MCAT score and a 4.0 GPA, Ben faces fierce competition for the prestigious Robinson Scholarship which would provide a “free ride” through medical school. He is told that he needs a way of “dazzling” Harvard in some way to stand out from the other extremely well-qualified applicants.

One day in math class, Professor Micky Rosa (Spacey) challenges Campbell with the Monty Hall problem, which Campbell solves successfully by using variable change and simple math. Seeing talent, Rosa invites Campbell to join his blackjack team, which consists of fellow students Choi (Yoo), Fisher (Pitts), Jill (Bosworth) and Kianna (Lapira). The system involves card counting, and the team—shepherded by Rosa—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 a table is favorable. Campbell is unsure at first, but decides to join 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 there. His performance as a “big player” impresses Rosa, but Fisher becomes jealous at Campbell’s blackjack success. Rosa kicks a drunken Fisher off the team after he insults Campbell and incites a melee that requires the team to quickly “cash out” (using dancers from their usual strip-club meeting place) before the casino switches chips. Ben and Jill also develop a mutual attraction, which culminates in the pair having a sexual encounter in Jill’s suite. Meanwhile, security chief Cole Williams (Fishburne) and his sidekick Terry (McGee) monitors the blackjack team, particularly Campbell.

Campbell, distracted by blackjack, botches his part of a project for the 2.09 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 Campbell repay him for the loss. Campbell and his three remaining teammates agree to go into business for themselves. On their first attempt, however, Williams apprehends Campbell (having been anonymously tipped off by Rosa), physically assails him, then lets him go after giving him a death threat.

Upon his return to Boston, Campbell learns that he has been given an incomplete for one of his classes and therefore will not graduate, and worse, that his winnings have been stolen from his dorm room. He suspects that Rosa is behind everything 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 last Strip casinos install biometric software that will quickly identify card counters, as long as Rosa — himself once a very successful “big player” — also plays.

Disguised, the team returns to the Planet Hollywood and win $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 with the intention of stealing the winnings, but finds his bag is full of chocolate coins and his limo is being driven by the casino manager.

The audience then learns that Williams had made a deal with Campbell after beating him up; Williams wants Rosa, who years earlier cost Williams a casino job by winning a seven-figure take in a single weekend through counting cards. Williams’ business since then has been in decline, as one casino after another opts for biometric software over his more personal approach. Williams will let Campbell come to Vegas for one last night to make a lot of money in exchange for giving him Rosa. Campbell’s pre-blackjack friends joined the team to help their friend. After capturing Rosa, Williams confronts Campbell and double-crosses him by demanding the bag of chips at gunpoint for his “retirement”. Aware that Ben plans on attending medical school to be a doctor, he assures the young man that everything will work out for him in the end. Ben hands the money over to Williams and leaves. Moments later, Rosa is tied to a chair where Williams greets him, informing the professor that he will turn him over to the IRS for evading taxes on his winnings. Ben and Jill return to the casino to regroup with their friends.

The movie closes with Campbell recounting the entire tale to a “dazzled” Harvard administrator.

[edit] Cast

This is the third film in which Spacey and Bosworth have starred together. The first was Beyond the Sea, which Spacey directed, and the second was Superman Returns. This is also the second film that Bosworth and director Luketic have made together, the first being Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!.

[edit] Casting controversy

Controversy arose over the decision to make the majority of the characters white, even though the main players in the book Bringing Down the House, upon which the film 21 is based, were mainly Asian. Studio executives determined that “most of the film’s actors would be white, with perhaps an Asian female.”[1]

Nick Rogers of The Enterprise wrote “The real-life students mostly were Asian-Americans, but 21 whitewashes its cast and disappointingly lumps its only major Asian actors (Aaron Yoo and Liza Lapira) into one-note designations as the team’s kleptomaniac and a slot-playing “loser.”[2]

Supporters of the decision to cast Jim Sturgess as Ben Campbell claim that producers simply sought the best actor for the job, regardless of race. Ultimately, this meant passing over many Asian-American talents in favor of London-born Jim Sturgess, who required a dialect coach to speak with an American accent.[3]

Jeff Ma, who was the real-life inspiration for the character Ben Campbell and served as a consultant on the film, was accused of being a “race traitor” on several blogs for not insisting that his character be Asian American. In response, Ma said, “I’m not sure they understand how little control I had in the movie-making process; I didn’t get to cast it.”[4] Ma said that the controversy was “overblown” and that the important aspect is that a talented actor would portray him.[5]

[edit] Filming

The movie began filming in March 2007.[6] Principal filming of the Las Vegas scenes took place at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Filming also took place at Harvard Medical School,[7] Chinatown, People’s Republik in Cambridge, and the Christian Science Center in Boston, Massachusetts. As MIT did not allow filming on campus, the MIT school and dorm interiors, the gymnasium, and the alumni reception were all shot at Boston University.[8]

[edit] Critical reception

21 received mostly negative reviews from critics. As of 9 September 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 35% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 145 reviews.[9] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 48 out of 100, based on 28 reviews.[10]

[edit] Box office performance

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $24,105,943 in 2,648 theaters in the United States and Canada, averaging $9,103 per venue and ranking #1 at the box office.[11] The film was also the #1 film in its second weekend of release, losing just 36% of its audience, grossing $15,337,418, expanding to 2,653 theaters, and averaging $5,781 per venue. The film dropped to #3 in its third weekend, losing only 32% of its audience, grossing $10,470,173, expanding to 2,736 theaters, and averaging $3,827 per venue. It fell to #6 in its fourth weekend, losing 47% of its audience, grossing $5,520,362 expanding to 2,903 theaters and averaging $1,902 per venue.

By the end of its theatrical run, the movie grossed a total of $157,802,470 worldwide — $81,159,365 in the United States and Canada and $76,643,105 in other territories, against a budget estimated at only $35 million.[12]

21 was released on DVD and Blu-ray in Region 1 on July 22, 2008.[13]

[edit] Reaction from casinos

In preproduction, the producers and the book’s original writers predicted that the Vegas casinos would be unhelpful, as a film that told viewers the basics of card counting might hurt their bottom line. A featurette included with the DVD completely and accurately describes the “Hi-Lo” system used by the MIT Blackjack Club and by Rosa’s team in the movie.

In fact, the writers were surprised when told by the producers that MGM Studios would finance the film, though all “MGM” casinos (including one used by the real MIT Blackjack Team) are owned by MGM Mirage and are no longer related to MGM Studios. In reality, as another DVD featurette reveals, the casinos (including MGM Mirage) saw the movie as an attention-getter; people who saw the movie would be encouraged to go to Vegas and play, attempting to count cards, when in reality the movie withheld critical details (such as the conversion from the “base count” to a “true count”), and in any case, although the counting system is simple, it is more difficult to successfully make money at counting cards than the movie portrays.

[edit] Soundtrack

21
Soundtrack by Various Artists
Released 18 March 2008
Genre Soundtrack
Label Columbia
Professional reviews

The soundtrack was released at the same time as the movie.[14]

  1. The Rolling Stones—”You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (Remixed by Soulwax) (6:07)
  2. MGMT—”Time to Pretend” (Super Clean Version) (4:20)
  3. LCD Soundsystem—”Big Ideas” (5:41)
  4. D. Sardy featuring Liela Moss—”Giant” (3:42)
  5. Amon Tobin—”Always” (3:38)
  6. Peter Bjorn and John—”Young Folks” (4:37)
  7. Junkie XL featuring Electrocute—”Mad Pursuit” (4:16)
  8. Get Shakes—”Sister Self Doubt” (4:22)
  9. The Aliens—”I Am The Unknown” (5:27)
  10. Rihanna—”Shut Up And Drive” (3:34)
  11. Knivez Out—”Alright” (3:31)
  12. Domino—”Tropical Moonlight” (3:28)
  13. Unkle—”Hold My Hand” (4:58)
  14. Mark Ronson featuring Kasabian—”L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)” (3:32)
  15. Broadcast—”Tender Buttons” (2:51)

[edit] Other tracks

  • Although it is not included in the soundtrack, a remix of Moby‘s “Slippin’ Away” plays in the scene when Ben is passing through airport security.[15]
  • The song “Everybody Get Dangerous” by Weezer was also featured in the film, but not included on the soundtrack since it was not yet released. It would later be released on Weezer’s new record, The Red Album. It is played on a distant radio when the team is in a poker club.
  • The songs “I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trick and “Music is Happiness” by The Octopus Project were also featured in the movie but not on the soundtrack album.
  • The song “Magnificent” by Estelle (feat. Kardinal Offishall) was also featured in the movie but not on the soundtrack album. It’s played approximately 58 minutes in, after the Weezer song, in the scene where Ben buys Jill a beer. It’s subtle, and has a reggae beat.
  • In the trailers for the movie, “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” by The Doors was used.
  • During the restaurant scene where the team explains to Ben how they work, “Home” by Great Northern can be heard playing in the background.
  • The song “Again With The Subtitles” by Texas artist “Yppah” is another uncredited song in the film.
  • The track played as the team makes off at the end of the film is “Rito a Los Angeles” by Giuseppe De Luca, which features part of the main riff of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida“. This track is also used in Ocean’s Twelve, the first sequel to the caper film Ocean’s Eleven, about actually robbing casinos in Vegas.

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Kevin Der (200509-30). “MIT Alumnus and ‘Busting Vegas’ Author Describe Experience of Beating the House“. The Tech. http://tech.mit.edu/V125/N43/43vegas.html. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
  2. ^ Nick Rogers (200803-26). “When the stakes are high, ’21’ folds“. The Enterprise. http://www.enterprisenews.com/entertainment/x1565506635. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
  3. ^ Michael Janusonis (200803-28). “Movies: 21 star Jim Sturgess got a crash course in card counting“. The Providence Journal. http://www.projo.com/movies/content/lb_jimsturgess_03-28-08_FM9FG9C_v17.2381fe6.html. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  4. ^ Justin Berton (200803-27). “Hollywood deals Jeff Ma a good hand with ’21’“. San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/27/DDQEVM8MQ.DTL. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
  5. ^ http://tech.mit.edu/V128/N12/blackjack.html
  6. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0478087/business Visit for verification
  7. ^ Hollywood in the Hub: 21 Filming at Harvard Medical School
  8. ^ Actor, producer Spacey brings filming to BU Castle – News
  9. ^ 21 Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes“. Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10009192-21/. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  10. ^ 21 (2008): Reviews“. Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/21. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  11. ^ 21 (2008) – Weekend Box Office Results“. Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=21.htm. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
  12. ^ 21 (2008)“. Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=21.htm. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  13. ^ Amazon.com: 21 (Single-Disc Edition): Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Jack Gilpin, Jack McGee, Kevin Spacey, Tom McGowan, Frank Patton, Spencer Garrett, Helen Carey, Jeff Dashnaw…
  14. ^ Marisa Brown. “allmusic ((( 21 > Overview )))“. Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:jzfrxzejld6e. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  15. ^ YouTube – 21 Black Jack – Slippin´ away“. YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbblHnAaynw. Retrieved 2009-04-16.

[edit] External links

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One thought on “21

  1. Great overview of the movie. The only inaccuracy is the Internet myth of the supposed whitewashing by Hollywood of the team. The characters and story lines in the book and movie were fictional and simply inspired by the activities of the MIT Blackjack Team, which consisted of approximately 15%-20% Asian Americans. The founder and leader of the team was Bill Kaplan, a Harvard College and Harvard Business School grad and not an MIT professor, and the players hailed from colleges across the country, including Harvard, Berkeley, Princeton, Univ. of Chicago, NYU, MIT and the like.

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