21 (2008)
a Robert Luketic film
Kevin Spacey (Mickey Rosa)
Kate Bosworth (Jill Taylor)
Jim Sturgess (Ben Campbell)

"You need discipline to stick to the system through thick and thin, and honesty with yourself to recognize if you're not playing well." - John Chang

The movie was entertaining. But it wasn't what I expected. This movie stimulated my curiosity regarding card counting, how it's done and if it is illegal. My curiosity heightened when I discovered that this was based on a "true story" (sorry I never had an idea). That, however, disappointed me more after knowing that the movie did not exhibit the True details. I guess it really entails artistic mind to put some mild exaggeration.

These were additional scenes that made the movie juicier but not an actual resemblance of reality:

  • scholarship interview
  • romance between Ben and Jill
  • cellphone conversations (this happened in the early '90s)
  • the beating up
  • drinking and going to strip clubs after every winning
  • hiding the money in the ceiling
  • everyone attending MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey)
What I found interesting in the movie was the codes they used to represent the count. And more interestingly, it is true! And the real people who are the inspiration of the characters in the movie:

  • Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) - Jeff Ma
  • Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth) - Jane Willis
  • Kianna (Liza Lapira) - Laurie Tsao
  • Jimmy Fisher (Jacob Pitts) - Mike Aponte
  • Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey) - a combination of 3 people: Bill Kaplan, J.P. Masser, and John Chang
Jeff Ma or the real Ben Campbell appeared in the movie as a dealer. John Chang, on the other hand, still refuses to reveal himself that when interviewed by Fox Business analyst Neil Cavuto, he appeared on cam but in a disguise. By the way, he still plays.

"The cards do not know whether you are angry, ecstatic, upset, laughing, or crying. As long as you're making mathematically correct decisions, your emotional state is irrelevant. Now, if you get upset, you may be less likely to make correct decisions, so it makes some sense." - John Chang


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