Metascore
48

Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 29
  2. Negative: 2 out of 29
  1. 75
    21 drags itself to a climax that puts credulity in splints. So what? In a multiplex of dumb-luck hits, it's a kick to watch Spacey and a gifted young cast use smarts to deal audiences a winning hand.
  2. The fun of 21 is the way that this sharp, hyperaware star in the making, his face as readable as a mood ring, pours us into an adrenalized cocktail of fear, desire, and mental buzz.
  3. 21 makes for some slick escapist fantasy. Even if, and because, the fantasy has its roots in something real.
  4. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    70
    Escapist moviegoers happy to live out a flashy fantasy get a brief comeuppance and still walk away from the table with a little something in their pockets.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    70
    Picture shrewdly shuffles together attractive young leads, cagey screen vets and a fantasy-fulfillment scenario in a slickly polished package that should appeal to anyone who's ever dreamed of beating the odds.
  6. 63
    A predictable moral tale enacted by blandly pretty young things who bear little resemblance to the average brainiac.
  7. 60
    Spacey's engaging for a while in one of his patented double-edged, sharky roles.
  8. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    60
    The Ocean’s Eleven: The College Years mood makes for a breezy good time, even if there is, like Vegas, precious little substance beneath the glitz.
  9. 58
    21 isn't insultingly stupid. But there's a gap between what we're told about its characters and what we can see for ourselves, a gap that gets larger and more frustrating as the film goes on.
  10. 50
    21 doesn't spin a good enough yarn.
  11. 21 isn’t pretentious, exactly, but it’s damn close, and in trying to whip up a melodramatic morality tale the film becomes an increasingly flabby slog.
  12. A thoroughly ordinary drama of temptation, dubious redemption and easy revenge.
  13. What a big cheat of a movie. Wanting to be everything to everybody – a tough gambling picture, a revenge-of-the-nerds fantasy, a Vegas caper flick, a sweet little romance, a simple morality tale – 21 is just a bet-hedger dealing from multiple decks, designed to leave you with an occasional tidbit to like but nothing at all to love.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    50
    While not exactly a zero, 21 lags and fails to measure up dramatically.
  15. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    50
    Very little adds up in 21.
  16. The early scenes are flashy fun, and Sturgess (handsome Jude in "Across the Universe") makes a convincing math geek. But the requisite romance and Hollywood-style ending feel as fake as the air allegedly pumped into casinos to revive flagging players
  17. 50
    A slick, shallow and thoroughly generic caper flick.
  18. A movie with an irresistible premise that ultimately collapses around the whole issue of motivation. Until it does, this is a thoroughly entertaining picture.
  19. The more moralistic 21 gets, the less enjoyable it is.
  20. 50
    What might have been a complex story dealing with greed and high-stakes betrayal among the young intellectual elite in America's gaming playground is instead treated as a slick, glossy romp.
  21. 50
    Except for Spacey's talent, elements don't add up.
  22. Reviewed by: Ryan Stewart
    50
    There are moments where Spacey and Bosworth have their fun in spite of the film -- they both adopt Southern "characters" as disguises at one point, which is a hoot -- but overall, 21 is a busted hand.
  23. 50
    No movie with Kevin Spacey as a heartless prick can be all bad, but this gambling thriller, based on Ben Mezrich's nonfiction book "Bringing Down the House," hasn't got much else going for it.
  24. 42
    Short of counting the cards out loud, these geniuses seem to do everything they can to get caught.
  25. Spacey, whose Trigger Street Productions is one of the film's producers, digs into his role as the story's snarky mastermind and lure, yet it's all the kind of stuff we've seen him deliver in so many movies before.
  26. The story may be based on real events, but most of it feels patently false.
  27. Greed is good and comes without a hint of conscience in 21, a feature-length bore about some smarty-pants who take Vegas for a ride.
  28. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    38
    The movie's chief audience, consequently, will probably be gullible and young, responding to the cliches only because they haven't seen them before. They have a word in Vegas for these people: Suckers.
  29. Reviewed by: Robert Wilonsky
    30
    A movie that wastes a lot of time and money and really, REALLY shoulda stayed in Vegas.
User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 152 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 51
  2. Negative: 12 out of 51
  1. Sep 3, 2010
    4
    If you think the plot of "21" sounds as if it was slyly brushed out of screenplay purgatory, just wait until you see how bland the movieIf you think the plot of "21" sounds as if it was slyly brushed out of screenplay purgatory, just wait until you see how bland the movie actually plays out. For being a group of renegade college students, the characters really aren't very interesting at all and the actors constantly allow Kevin Spacey to steal the scenes, even when he's in the next room getting coffee. Props to Jim Sturgess for giving some especially bad narrating, too. If anything, though, the movie's effective editing does do a good job of capturing the excitement and tension of counting cards as a team. Full Review »
  2. RyanS.r
    Apr 18, 2008
    3
    I saw 21 when a friend told me it was awesome and to go see it. I'm questioning whether or not to stay friends with him. This movie was I saw 21 when a friend told me it was awesome and to go see it. I'm questioning whether or not to stay friends with him. This movie was predictable, shallow, glitzy and everything else people hate about these stupid popcorn movies. It took serious willpower to sit through this factually inaccurate, and ethnically stereotypical movie. I'm offended that people say this movie is for 13 year old, because even I, who am thirteen, don't deserve a movie as bad as this. Full Review »
  3. Jul 8, 2014
    7
    While the first half of 21 is interesting, fresh, and gives us a glimpse into the minds and everyday lives of this card-counting team, theWhile the first half of 21 is interesting, fresh, and gives us a glimpse into the minds and everyday lives of this card-counting team, the second half resorts to melodramatics, Hollywood clichés, and a very "movie-like" ending. The one saving grace of the movie is, of course, Kevin Spacey. In fact, he's the reason I watched it in the first place. Full Review »