There have been many movies that have featured casinos, some great ones and some not so great ones. It is not difficult to see why many film directors are attracted to the casino theme; the bright lights, the glamour, the action, the characters; the high rollers, they don’t really need to add much else in order to create a nearly perfect backdrop. The biggest grossing casino movie of all time is the 2006 version of the James Bond film Casino Royale in which Daniel Craig plays the early James Bond on his first mission as Special Agent 007.
Essentially it involves the villainous Le Chiffre who is a terrorist financier. Bond discovers that he will be playing in a high roller poker game in an attempt to win back money that he lost when a terrorist attack was foiled by Bond. Bond’s mission is to bankrupt Le Chiffre, though before he does so there are a number of obstacles to overcome including poisoning, defibrillation, and rather disturbing pokers tell in which Le Chiffre appears to cry tears of blood. Following Bond’s win with a perfect poker hand, he is captured and rather nastily tortured by Le Chiffre, and further twists follow.
Although a great film, there were significant variations from the original Ian Fleming novel which was published in 1953. One important difference is that in the movie the game that was played at Casino Royal was poker, while in the novel it was high stakes baccarat. The probable reason was that in the world of the online casino poker has become a very popular game, so more people used to sites like www.onlinecasinoaustralia.com.au were able to relate to it. The original Casino Royale was released in 1967 in which David Niven plays James Bond. Unfortunately it was rather a failure and was branded as chaotic by various critics.
Ben Campbell, a shy but brilliant student, takes up an offer to finance his studies at M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) by gambling at blackjack. He is recruited to join a group of gifted students that travel every weekend to Las Vegas to test their gambling skills on the blackjack tables of the casinos and beat them at their own game.
Armed with false identities and the necessary know-how, they conquer the blackjack tables. Under the close supervision of their inspirational professor of mathematics, Mickey Rose, a genius in statistics who used his mastery of the laws of probability to put together a lethal team of blackjack players capable of challenging the mighty casinos of Las Vegas, taunting them under their very noses.
Blackjack Card counting
By counting cards and thanks to a complicated system of signals, the team methodically and repeatedly beats casinos at will. Seduced by the easy money, the Las Vegas lifestyle and his sexy rocket scientist teammate Jill Taylor, Ben begins to push the blackjack table limits. Counting cards at blackjack is not illegal in itself, but the bets are astronomical and beyond mastering the numbers, they must also count with Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne), a formidable foe who plays the role of the Security Manager for the casinos.
I was attracted by the fact that the film is based on a true story. Kevin Spacey is also excellently cast as the science professor with the unorthodox methods.
Las Vegas as a character
Las Vegas has always been a fascinating location for the film industry, especially in the American psyche. One out of two American TV series make a detour via Las Vegas for an episode or two, while the media of cinema manipulates the surreal elements of the city with its disproportionate wealth and promise of easy money. In fact, locating the action in Las Vegas allows a wealth of turns in plot that directors often use to add to the plot.
I deeply enjoyed watching Las Vegas 21 which is an unpretentious film with very good credible actors. Jim Sturgess, the young British actor is very promising, while the actor alchemy is believable and offers a glimpse into a true life story about the intoxicating world of the blackjack gambling M.I.T. team.
The film Las Vegas 21 is well paced and despite a predictable scenario, it is a thoroughly enjoyable two hours to spend. I cannot decide whether you need a PhD in mathematics to understand the mathematical artistry and card counting methods employed. But then again, I didn’t major in mathematics, so I am probably not the best person to judge.
The 1998 movie Rounders featuring Matt Damon, Edward Norton and John Malkovich amongst others created a boom in the game of Poker worldwide. In particular the popular Texas Hold em variant of the game grew immensely due to the success of the movie.