Apart from the occasional sneaky Lotto ticket, I’m no gambler. The thought at putting the few pennies I own at stake to win big makes me go all light-headed. I could be swimming in riches or eating stale bread! Still, I like the glitz and glamour that comes with casinos and so it felt right to step into the world of Las Vegas gambling in the 80’s. One wrong move and you could end up with a broken nose. It’s the mob way.
In the 80’s the mob thought they could take control of the casino business. This fictional retelling of what sort of things went on puts a sports handicapper, Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein (Robert De Niro), in charge of the Tangiers casino. He has no license, but they use tricks to keep this hidden and money starts to pour in. People love it and things seem to be going well for everybody, even when Sam’s gangster buddy Nicky (Joe Pesci) is causing trouble around town. It’s romance which starts to make everything go a little nutty, as Sam marries the hustler Ginger (Sharon Stone) who just loves money. He can’t keep her in control to the degree he’d like to, and Nicky’s rebellious ways are getting out of hand. It all starts to kick off when he has to get a license, and from here we see everyone fall into a miserable mess. It’s painful yet equally engrossing to see how each character spirals out of control, leading to some real brutal scenes. Mobs always seem to end up in the shitter.
The constant narration and increasing level of grief keep Casino in a beautiful full flow, like a constant winner on the roulette. Ginger and her constant breakdowns can be irksome, but you just got to know how it all turns out, even if a glimpse of things to come is shown from the very beginning. How did it end up like this and who was the one who made that car Sam sits in into a fireball?
With such an explosive start and almost documentary like narration on how the casino runs, it quickly gets you on sitting down without wanting to leave the table. Signs of a successful casino. Just ignore that drunken mess in the corner screaming and wailing. She is part of the furniture.