Casinos are not a source of fun only for the gamblers. Nearly every form of art has drawn inspiration from the gambling scene, including movies and TV shows. And can you imagine a better way to relax and unwind than watching famous casino movies?
When you choose to watch a movie that centres around gambling, you already know what you are signing up for – action, tension, and drama. Why? Because casinos are all about risk, calculated moves, and chance.
If you are in the mood for an action movie that focuses on gambling, try our recommendations listed below.
By now, all blackjack fans know the story of the group of MIT students who beat the casinos using card counting. The team worked for nearly two decades, with new members joining in and branching out to form smaller groups. Ben Mezrich wrote his book Bringing Down the House in 2003 which made the team famous outside gambling circles. However, it was in 2008 that the story became globally popular, thanks to Columbia Pictures becoming interested in Mezrich’s book. The movie 21 is the result of their interest in this exciting story.
Jim Sturgess and Kevin Spacey play the lead roles of Ben, a MIT mathematics major, and the professor Micky Rosa who invites Ben to join the blackjack team. The team learns complex card counting techniques which help them beat the house, winning a lot of money in the process. However, not everything is good and dandy, as Micky and Ben are about to find out. The movie was a box office success.
Robert DeNiro is no stranger to casino movies. This remarkable actor has played several prominent roles in movies set in casino halls, but no role can match his Ace Rothstein from Casino. With Sharon Stone as his wife and Joe Pesci as his mob partner and best friend, DeNiro successfully tells the story of Frank Lefty Rosenthal and his years running Las Vegas casinos.
Casino tells the story of Rothstein and Nicky Santoro, and the years they spent running the gambling circle in Las Vegas. With mob affiliations, they navigated the murky Las Vegas waters and quickly rose to the top of the chain – only to quickly tumble down after a series of unlucky events. The ups and downs of two men who stood behind some of the biggest gambling houses in Nevada is not something you want to miss. Moreover, the movie is based on real-life events, embodied in Nicholas Pileggi’s book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas.
Ocean’s 11 (2001)
Now, this one is a classic. Ocean’s 11 is a classic heist film directed by Steven Soderbergh. It’s not a classic drama heist, but rather a comedy with a love triangle on the side. The movie came out in 2001 and was so successful that it quickly evolved into a trilogy. Ocean’s 12 and Ocean’s 13 were released in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
The movie cast consists of big names – George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, and Matt Damon. Clooney is Danny Ocean, who assembles a team of experts in stealing items – heist experts if you will – and devises a plan to rob three of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas simultaneously. But here is the catch – the owner of all three casinos is one man, who’s currently dating Ocean’s ex-girlfriend, Tess. Needless to say, their plight proves to be more challenging that they initially thought, but we don’t doubt you’ll be more than pleased with the ending. It’s a perfect choice if you aren’t into drama too much and appreciate comic relief from time to time.
Molly’s Game (2017)
Women rarely play a leading role in casino movies. They are often included in the cast, but most of them play supporting roles of marginalized characters frequently irrelevant to the plot. But Molly’s Game is different. Played by the brilliant Jessica Chastain, the movie is a biographical account of the life of Molly Bloom. She ran a highly successful poker game in Los Angeles but was then arrested by the FBI for her involvement in underground gambling circles.
Molly’s troubles were presented in her eponymous memoir in 2014. Aaron Sorkin chose Molly’s Game as his directorial debut which came out in 2017. Intense, poignant, and exciting, the movie brings her story to viewers and shows the insides of poker rooms, high-stakes tables, dangerous circles, and a woman daring to fight that alone. A certified must-watch if you are into newer movies about casinos.
For the last movie on our list, we turned to neo-noir movies and the British 1998 release The Croupier. Clive Owen plays the aspiring writer who is trying to sort his life out and finally become rich. Thanks to this movie, Clive Owen became a very popular actor in Hollywood, landing numerous big roles after The Croupier arrived in North America.
The writer’s attempts are futile, and he ends up going on a job interview for a croupier position in a casino. Soon, his life starts to change, and he becomes more engrossed in the world of gambling. The highlight of the movie is his involvement in a casino robbery that threatens to destroy his life, work, and relationship with his girlfriend. What will he do? Is there a lesson to be learned after all? Watch the movie and see!
Before we end this article, we have to mention several movies that did not make the cut but certainly deserve your attention. Here are our honourable mentions:
- Atlantic City (1980)
- Rounders (1998)
- The Color of Money (1986)
- The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
- The Gambler (1974)
Giant casino lobbies have been the setting for a number of great cinematic experiences, and they will continue to inspire generations of filmmakers in the future. We hope you enjoyed our recommendations! Feel free to reach out if you have other suggestions for us!