Casino (1995)

casino poster 1995 movie robert de niro sharon stone joe pesci
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Gets the seedy nature of Las Vegas, great cast

Long, not as concise as Goodfellas

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Casino

Studio:  Syalis D.A.

Genre(s):  Drama/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  November 22, 1995

MPAA Rating:  R


Things are going great! Nothing will ever go wrong!

In 1973, Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) is sent to Las Vegas to run the Tangiers Casino for the mob, but unfortunately for Ace, his childhood friend and fellow mobster Nicholas “Nicky” Santoro (Joe Pesci) has also been sent to be the muscle for the casino.  Together, Ace and Nicky turn the Tangiers into a success, and Ace becomes one of the big men of the Strip.  Ace has everything he’d want including the hand of hustler Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone) who joins him in living the good life.  When Nicky is banned from all casinos, things begin to go bad as he becomes a major force in the mafia in Las Vegas…and Ace and Nicky are going to go head-to-head in deadly consequences.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, Casino is a historical crime thriller.  The movie is based on the 1995 non-fiction Nicholas Pileggi book Casino:  Love and Honor in Las Vegas though the story’s names have been changed and some events have been fictionalized.  The movie received mostly positive reviews and has since its release become a cult favorite.   Sharon Stone received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role in the film.


Drugs…they’re bad for you

It sometimes takes a while for me to get worked up to see a gangster film…this time it took twenty years.  The problem I often have with gangster films is that they throw a lot of names at you, they are full of unsavory (often irritating) people who are often self-righteous, and in Casino’s case, it takes a looong time to tell the story.  This doesn’t mean the films are bad (because I often like them), but I always have to prepare myself for them.  I should have seen Casino earlier, but it does have the standard Mafia pitfalls.

Often the Mafia style movies follow any “success” movie pattern (even if they are based on true events).  The characters start relatively small, build a name, live the high life, and generally crash and burn.  It happened here, Goodfellas (also written by Pileggi), and in movies like A Clockwork Orange and Boogie Nights.  The changes involve how the story unfolds and the characters.  Casino unfolds a bit unevenly, drags, and isn’t as good as its comparison film Goodfellas, but it is still enjoyable.


Well…Pesci doesn’t play nice.

The main reason Casino does work is the cast.  De Niro is stellar in these type of roles, especially in this movie where he really has to suppress his rage (you can see it boiling in many scenes).  Pesci is much like his hot tempered Goodfellas’ role, and love him or hate him, Pesci does crazy well.  Sharon Stone is a surprise in the movie with her strongest role thus far in her career but I feel her on-again-off-again partner James Woods is wasted.  I particularly enjoy Don Rickles in the movie in a straight role which is a huge difference from his normal performances (Dick Smothers also has an appearance as a Nevada senator).


Come on, Scorsese…even in 1995 you can do better than this!

The movie also looks great.  It gets both the glitz and glam of Las Vegas but also gets the seediness.  I like the trips to the desert to show the vast wasteland surrounding the city and Scorsese always has some flare to his directing and shots.  I will say however the exploding car at the beginning isn’t a good start since there is the obvious cut and dummy shot.

Casino is a good flick, but there are better movies that fill the same theme and do it in a much more concise and quicker manner.  It just feels that parts of the movie could be cut and other areas which could have been explored more were not beefed up.  I do recommend Casino but be sure to see some of De Niro and Scorsese’s other wares first.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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