The 5 Best Casino Movies

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Casino movies can fall into practically any genre, including comedy, action, and crime. These five movies take radically different views of what can happen in a casino.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

The scenario: a drug-addicted boozehound and his lawyer go on a paranoid adventure through Las Vegas while covering the Mint 400 desert race on 1971. Breaking every law of the land, the pair manage to evade trouble, even though his psychedelic-fueled cohort almost murders Hunter S. Thompson, the central character and the book’s author.

However, what sounds like little more than a movie about drugs and lawlessness, has a deeper meaning about the American Dream and what freedom means in the United States. It’s also hilarious, creepy, and confusing.

Ocean’s 11 (2001)

The 2001 Ocean’s 11 is a remake of a 1960’s version that starred the Rat Pack. The Rat Pack made the original a success, so it makes sense that the remake has a star-studded cast of actors including George Clooney, Bernie Mac, and Brad Pitt.

This caper story puts challenges a group of professional thieves to do something seemingly impossible: rob three of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas, at the same time. They have a brilliantly orchestrated plan, but you’ll have to watch to find out whether they can get away with such a crazy caper.

Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale introduced the world to a Daniel Craig, who plays Bond as a tough, rough-around-the-edges character. Bond still enjoys his martinis shaken not stirred, and he still loves beautiful women, but he’s not above cracking lewd jokes while getting tortured. While the movie’s plot focuses on an intense card game that could give millions of pounds to a terrorist organization, it’s mostly about how the new Bond character interacts with the world. He’s not as suave, but he’s more aggressive and, at times, frighteningly intense. Any man who can restart his own heart is the kind of man audiences want to watch.

The Cooler (2003)

What do casinos do when a player has a hot night? They send in a cooler. That’s someone with such incredibly bad luck that it rubs off on everyone near him. The particular cooler, played by William H. Macy, in this movie sees a beacon of hope when a young waitress takes an interest in him. Unfortunately, bad luck continues to follow him wherever he goes.

This one isn’t a feel-good movie by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is interesting and well-made.

Casino (1995)

The title pretty much says it all. This three-hour epic directed by Martin Scorsese takes a close look at the ugly side of Las Vegas, including mobsters played by (who else?) Joe Pesci and Robert DeNiro. If you’ve ever heard stories about how the seedy Las Vegas underworld controls the whole city, they probably came from this movie (or the true events that Scorsese used to craft the film).

What are your favorite casino movies? Do you think The Hangover counts?

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