21 is a 2008 American heist drama film directed by Robert Luketic and starring Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Bosworth, Liza Lapira, Jacob Pitts, Aaron Yoo, and Kieu Chinh. 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. Despite its largely mixed reviews and controversy over the film's casting choices, 21 was a box office success, and was the number one film in the United States and Canada during its first and second weekends of release.
Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess), a mathematics major at MIT, is accepted into Harvard Medical School but cannot afford the $300,000 tuition. He applies for the prestigious Robinson Scholarship which would cover the entire cost. However, despite having an MCAT score of 44 and high grades, he faces fierce competition, and is told by the director that the scholarship will only go to whichever student dazzles him. Back at MIT, Professor Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) challenges Ben with the Monty Hall Problem which he solves successfully. After looking at Ben's 97% score on his latest non-linear equations test, Rosa invites Ben to join his blackjack team, which consists of fellow students Choi, Fisher, Jill, and Kianna. Using card counting and covert signalling, they are able to increase their probability of winning while at casinos, leading them to earn substantial profits. Over many weekends, the team is flown to Las Vegas and Ben comes to enjoy his luxurious lifestyle as a so-called big player. The team is impressed by Ben's skill, but Fisher becomes jealous and fights him while drunk, leading Rosa to expel him. Meanwhile, the head of security, Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne), has been monitoring the team and begins to turn his attention to Ben.