21 is a 2008 American heist drama based on a true story about six MIT students who were experts in card counting at Blackjack. They subsequently took Vegas casinos for Millions of Dollars.
These six friends go on a secret trip to Las Vegas where they use their skills, code talk, hand signals and the probability of winning at various casinos leading them to earn substantial profits. The main character Ben, who initially only wanted to make enough to get into Harvard, becomes corrupted by greed.
Ben Campbell is a student at MIT in Boston who desperately wants a scholarship to transfer to Harvard’s School of Medicine but cannot afford it. One evening he is introduced into a small, secretive club by his unorthodox math professor who is learning to count cards. Ben joins the group as he sees it as a solution to fulfilling his dreams of getting into Harvard. Sadly once he makes enough to get into Harvard, he is not able to quit and morphs into his alter ego and does a complete 360.
His devotion to Blackjack causes him to lose focus in an engineering competition which estranges him from his friends which causes him to become distracted, resulting in making a significant loss at the tables on their next Las Vegas trip. It then highlights how friendships falter, deception and revenge take priority when money is involved. There is certainly no honour amongst thieves, be it at the tables in Vegas or holding up a bank.
21 is thematically relevant, particularly in today’s world of materialism and greed. It has a more significant impact than other films in this genre because the events of 21 are based on a true story. It is both engaging and entertaining and emphasizes the dangers of obsessive gambling and how it affects individuals and their lives.