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Published on June 21st, 2021 | by gareth

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5 Casino Themed Movies You Have to Watch

Sometimes you don’t have the time off work to head to the casino and play a few rounds of blackjack. Or, if you are unlucky, you live in a state where there aren’t any retail casinos within driving distance.

But if you’ve got a hankering for the sound of slot machines and jackpots or want to see the Vegas skyline without taking a vacation, you could always watch a casino-themed movie instead. Luckily, there are plenty of casino-themed movies available, ranging from caper classics to heist movies to action movies to spy thrillers.

Some of the best films surrounding casinos and casino culture are Academy Award winners, too. Here’s a list of five top casino-themed movies we recommend you check out with a bowl of popcorn sometime soon.

Ocean’s Eleven

Ocean’s Eleven has actually been redone a few times – the original came out in the 1960s. The one we’re referring to came out 2001 and stars an ensemble cast including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, and more.

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The movie follows this all-star cast as they plan to rob a casino mogul in one of the most entertaining heists of all time. Along the way, they visit a variety of luxury casinos and get into hilarious hijinks. Perhaps more importantly, they have excellent chemistry with one another. So even during the film’s numerous discussion scenes (and there are many), the conversations keep you hooked.

The movie is a fantastic feature from start to finish and never feels boring. But keep in mind you may need to watch it multiple times. There are tons of Easter eggs and special hints that you only get with your second or third viewing!

The Hangover

The Hangover is more of a comedy classic than Ocean’s Eleven, starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zack Galifianakis. The movie single-handedly launched the careers of the latter two comedic actors, and it tells one of the most iconic and hilarious stories to take place in Las Vegas.

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It follows the three friends as they wake up the morning after a wild bachelor party in Vegas with their friend, who’s supposed to be married the following day. Naturally, things don’t go as planned and the three attempts to figure out what happened during their bachelor party are repeatedly blocked or sidetracked with antics involving a baby, a Chinese gangster, and Mike Tyson’s pet tiger.

While it’s not the most serious movie out of this bunch, it’s certainly casino-themed and most of it was filmed on location in Las Vegas. It’s not a perfect replacement for a true Vegas vacation, but it’s close enough!

Casino

Casino is a 1995 classic directed by the famous Martin Scorsese, who practically mastered the gangster movie genre. Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone, it tells the tale of a Jewish-American gambling expert who oversees casino operations in Las Vegas during the 1970s. Over time, the protagonist, played by de Niro, becomes one of the most infamous crime bosses in the area.

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It’s a film that takes a real, gritty look at the society of Las Vegas decades ago before corporations eliminated much of the admittedly criminal freedoms the city’s citizens experienced in the past. Each of the principal actors does a phenomenal job and the story sticks with you well after the credits have rolled. It also features a lot of beautiful casino locations and even a few action-packed set pieces.

Be aware, however, that this is a more mature movie than any of the others on this list. It features a few scenes of intense violence, so you shouldn’t watch Casino with kids present.

Casino Royale

Casino Royale is the first of the James Bond reboots starring Daniel Craig; in fact, it was the actor’s first outing as the iconic British superspy. It also includes actors such as Eva Green, who plays James Bond’s first love interest, and Mads Mikkelsen, who plays the chief villain. It’s based on Ian Fleming’s original Bond novel and primarily revolves around Bond’s efforts to defeat the machinations of the villain Le Chiffre.

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To defeat this villain, James Bond enters the casino resort for which the film is named. Poker fans in particular will appreciate this movie as much of the action and dramatic tension revolves around a high-stakes Texas Hold ‘Em tournament.

While Bond plays a lot of cards in this movie, you’ll also get plenty of classic James Bond action throughout the film, including chase scenes, spy gadgets, and romance. It’s the perfect marriage of a James Bond movie and a casino thriller film, which is why it’s so beloved both among general audiences and James Bond diehard fans.

21

Last but not least is 21, a 2008 American heist drama starring Kevin Spacey, Lawrence Fishburne, and Jim Sturgess. As its title suggests, most of its dramatic action involves blackjack, and the plot follows a mathematics major at MIT who learns how to count cards and use that skill to win blackjack games at Las Vegas casinos in order to pay for medical school.

21

He joins a team of card counters and eventually runs afoul of Las Vegas’ pit bosses and bodyguards. It’s an action-packed thriller at its core, featuring plenty of likable characters and some good chase scenes, many of which take place within Las Vegas casinos.

It’s also a good movie for teaching you why you shouldn’t count cards on your next casino vacation!

The above five movies are just a handful of the engaging, casino-themed films that have come out over the last few decades. Hollywood seems to have an obsession with Las Vegas and casinos, and we’ll likely have another few modern classics come out before the 2020s are through.

We highly recommend you check out the above five movies if you haven’t seen them already. Not only are they great movies for casino fans – they’re also great movies in general! Let us know if there are some casino-themed movies you like more than the above choices instead.

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About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.



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