SPONSORED: From Casino To Cinema: Gambling-Inspired Movies Of Recent Years

Casino Cinema Pop Corn

Many movies with casino themes have been released over the years. With the release of the illicit poker tournament story Molly’s Game to good reviews and a box office gross of over $50m last year, it’s clearly a genre that continues to enjoy popularity around the world.

Casino movies are appealing for a number of reasons, and one of them is clearly the opportunity for crime and fraud-related plot lines. However, it’s also the high-stakes nature of on-screen gambling that appeals to many. Most viewers of mainstream casino films are unlikely to actually visit casinos regularly themselves, meaning that the films offer an opportunity for some escapism.

Here are three of the top casino movies of recent years – and a brief summary of what the critics had to say about them.

Casino Royale

Based on Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, the 2006 release of this spy film placed Daniel Craig in the lead role alongside other high-profile actors. It tells the story of Bond, who travels abroad to destroy the career of a man linked to terrorism.

As is often the case with many Bond films, the movie was considered a major success – and managed to gross almost $600m at the box office. It also received excellent critical reviews. “Gone were the flabby one-liners, the preposterous gadgets, the ubiquitous cocktails and the world-threatening schemes,” wrote critic Ben Child. In his published review Child’s also said: “This was a smaller, less ambitious Bond that somehow felt grander and more audacious, a film that grounded the series back in reality and made us believe that 007 could thrive once more in the 21st century.”

Fact: Casino Royale broke the Guinness World Record for highest amount of barrel rolls by a car. Previously, this was an honor held by the popular British motor show Top Gear.

Watch the Official Trailer:


Inspired by the true story of the MIT Blackjack Team as told in Ben Mezrich’s best-selling book Bringing the House Down, this 2008 heist drama movie tells the story of how one brilliant MIT student named Ben is recruited by professor Mickey Rosa, played by Kevin Spacey, as part of his blackjack team who are trained in counting cards.

The intention is simple: Rosa realizes Ben’s genius and decides to teach him how to play blackjack, but more importantly, how to count cards, so they can later hit it off to Vegas and rake in big money. Ben’s motivations are at first to earn money to be able to pay for his tuition, but he quickly ends up loving the newly-found luxurious lifestyle so he keeps playing.

However, what the team does not realize is that they are being watched by casino security chief Cole Williams (Lawrence Fishburne), so when Ben loses thousands at a game, Micky turns the whole team over to Cole, who interrogates and beats Ben. Back at MIT, Ben’s performance in academics starts to suffer and later finds out that his winnings have been stolen.

Ben gets told that he is allowed one last night in Vegas if he handed Micky in to Chief Cole so he hits at a Vegas casino to win back his losses, and in the process, he dupes Micky into accepting his fake casino chips, and leaves him to Cole. The film ends with him recounting all the events to a baffled Harvard director.

Although there were mixed reviews and controversies surrounding the movie, by the end of its theatrical run, it had grossed a total of $157,802,470 worldwide.

Fact: There was a big controversy about the casting for the movie, which was mostly race-based since the majority of the characters were white Americans, when in reality, the main players in the book Bringing Down the House, were mainly Asian-Americans.

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Molly’s Game

Directed by Aaron Sorkin, this 2017 film tells the story of Molly Bloom, an athlete turned poker tournament organizer. The tournaments that she hosted were clandestine, but they attracted celebrities and other high-end participants.

Starring Jessica Chastain in the title role alongside Idris Elba, the film shows how Bloom was arrested over the game – and the impact that it had on her life. It’s based on a real-life story, written by Molly Bloom herself in a memoir.

Fact: The film was Sorkin’s first as a director.

Watch the Official Trailer:

Heroic Staff

Heroic Staff

Heroic Special Activities Division Agent Trainee Program