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Katharine Meredith

HUM205 - Scottsdale Community College

April 28, 2008


My first viewing of the movie 21 was on Sunday, April 20 at 4:35pm at Harkins Tempe Marketplace. Due to job obligations with my companies quarter end, I was unable to view the movie again until Saturday morning, April 26 at 10:30am at Harkins Tempe Marketplace. The first viewing had an audience of approximately 125 people of various ages. Due to the early hour of my second viewing there were only 10 people all over the age of approximately 40.

When this movie was released I believe it did hit number one. I believe it already has made money in the U.S. It is in the process of being released to other countries and will be very well received and make plenty of money to recoup what Sony spent to make this movie. This movie falls into the genre of drama.


The movie is based on a true story of Jeffrey Ma and a group of M.I.T. students that take Las Vegas casinos for millions using a high/low blackjack card counting system. The movie centers mostly on the main character Ben Campbell. Ben is a shy, brilliant student at M.I.T. particularly in math. Ben has aspirations to go to Harvard medical school and in search of finding the $300k in funds for Harvard he is recruited into a group that turns the odds at playing blackjack in their favor. The group is lead by an unorthodox math professor Micky

Rosa. The team has an intricate system of signals they use with the high/low card counting system allowing the team to beat the casinos. (, 2008)


The script is based on a true story of Jeffrey Ma and a group of six M.I.T. students that take Las Vegas casinos for millions using a high/low blackjack card counting system. The movie gives credit to Jeffrey Ma and the book 21: Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich. (Mezrich, 2002)

The screenplay credit goes to Peter Steinfield and Allan Loeb. Peter has brought us screenplays: Drowning Mona and Analyze That. Allan was employed as a Chicago Board of Trade until 1992. He gave it up and moved to Los Angeles to write scripts. He took a course at UCLA in script writing and started writing script after script. In 1997 he sold a script to DreamWorks The Second Time Around and The Only Living Boy in New York sold to Sony in 2004. His first produced screenplay was released last year with Things We Lost in the Fire.

If it were not for the attention to detail that Pete and Allan have excelled at the audience could easily have been lost. They took great pains to make sure the audience understood the high/low blackjack card counting system. Writing in scenes that show Ben being taught the words for the special communication such as glove=5, cat=9, sweet=16 etc. The spotter at the card table would communicate to the Player how hot the deck was in a sentence. To signal 16 the sentence would sound like this: This drink is so sweet. The larger the number the more the Player would bet. (, 2008)


The major conflict faced by the character is Ben’s conflict over just making the 300 thousand for Harvard medical school and getting out. Once he started making the money and he got to become who ever he wanted to be in Las Vegas, his emotion took over and he did not want to give it up. Ben’s mother passes him a check for $68,000, as a down payment for Harvard. He lies and says he was awarded the Robinson Scholarship. He thanked her and said she could keep the money she had worked so hard for all his life.

He is also conflicted over a 209 competition he has worked on for a year with his best friend Miles. When he shows up late for a meeting with the wrong computer chip for the robot Miles tells Ben his heart is just not in it and he is off the team.

Ben is also conflicted over telling his friend or family about the double life he is leading. He has to make up lies about where he is every weekend when he is off gambling.


I found it interesting that there was so much background about Ben that is disclosed in the movie but very little about the other characters. The part of Ben Campbell is played by Jim Sturgess. He is currently in the movie The Other Boleyn Girl. His film debut was in the Beatles musical Across the Universe.

Jill Taylor is played by Kate Bosworth. She plays a role as a spotter on the team and becomes a love interest for Ben as well. Her character reveals that her father is dead and was a gambler and started teaching her at a very early age. She reveals when she was very young her father lost a bet and they did not have a good Christmas. I see her character as getting satisfaction from collecting money from the source that ruined her family. Kate won the “Young Hollywood Award” in 2003 for the category of next generation-female. One of her first roles on the big screen was in The Horse Whisperer directed by Robert Redford.

Micky Rosa is played by Kevin Spacey. His character development is probably purposely much more elusive as a way to get respect from this group of M.I.T. students. We learn from Cole that Micky was responsible for a loss of seven figures one night at a casino that Cole had been fired over. This had happened years before but Cole had been wanting to get revenge for a long time. Micky is the brains behind the team and sets up training so they can perfect the method he has developed high/low card counting and communication system. He also comes up with the fake identification for each team member so they can dress and look the part in the casinos. Kevin won an Oscar for is performance as Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects in 1995.

Choi is played by Aaron Yoo. His role in the team is to be a spotter he counts the cards in the deck at the black jack tables and signals when the deck is hot. His character development leads us to see him as a compulsive kleptomaniac. He steals off the hotel carts, out of the hotel rooms almost anything he can get into his bag. He even steals a bottle of champagne using a team member’s purse to store it in. He has been in several movies the most notable is Disturbia.

Liza Lapira plays the part of Kianna. Her role in the team is to be a spotter as well. She has very little character development of all the M.I.T. student team. The majority of her acting experience has been on TV. She appeared as the character Heather in Cloverfield.

Cole Williams is played by Laurence



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