The mythical adult entertainment city of Las Vegas, Nevada is like a perfect set for a movie, with its intrigues, its neons, its adult themes and even the evolution of the city itself. Therefore, it’s not a surprise to see that hundreds of movies are either set in Las Vegas or have a least a few scenes happening in Sin City. Today we’ll focus on the one actually set in the city so I can make my personal Top 5 of the best movies set in Las Vegas! Of course, it is my personal opinion, I’m not a professional movie critic and I haven’t seen all movies in the world, so prepare yourself for a completely subjective top written by a 27 years old French guy who never step foot in Vegas!
I don't get it... That seemed like an hilarious movie, don't you think?
The Worst: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
With an impressive 5% on Rotten Tomatoes, this 2015 movie seems to be the worst one ever set in Las Vegas. I actually haven’t seen it and I hope I never will (and no, I won’t watch it just to give it a chance and give a more precise opinion in this article). Let us see what Rotten Tomatoes has to say about it: “Bathed in flop sweat and bereft of purpose, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 strings together fat-shaming humor and Segway sight gags with uniformly unfunny results.”
Alright, that seems like the type of movie that makes you want to break your TV after 5 minutes. Let’s get to the good ones.
Now that I see it in 2018, the poster kinda looks like a cheap Photoshop work...
Released in 2008, 21 is about the story of a young mathematics genius who learns about card counting so he can join a group of blackjack players who try to rob Casinos. Inspired by a real story, 21 was a success in the US when it was released but it seems like the kind of movie everyone forgot about. I actually remembered seeing it while I was making some research for this article. All in all, it was a pretty easy to watch movie about an interesting story. Nothing to write home about but it can be nice to watch If you’re interested in the Casino world, Blackjack and the card counting techniques. The movie also created a polemic because they replaced the original people of the Blackjack players group who were mostly Asian-americans by a white casting. Good thing for them they didn’t release it in 2018 or it would have been a flame war on Twitter!
A cult psychedelical movie with a strong imagery but I wasn't really sensitive to it
The French name of this movie is “Las Vegas Parano” and I always thought it was the original title! This movie from 1998 is quite a strange one, as we follow Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro riding around Vegas while talking drugs. All in all, the movie is just that, they ride and take drugs in Las Vegas. The movie was a commercial failure but actually reached cult status and has a lot of fans all over the world! Personally, I didn’t really get all the hype around their psychedelic trip even if I have a big sympathy for Terry Gilliam (you should watch the amazing documentary Lost in La Mancha if you want to know more about this director and directing movies altogether). In France, it is a really popular movie and I always thought it was overhyped. It seems to be a movie that really polarizes opinions so you should at least watch it once to get your own, maybe you’ll love it!
A classic in the recent comedy movies
This movie might be the one who had the worst name change for adapting a movie to the French market, as it was released here under the name “Very bad trip”. It doesn’t really make any sense and lacks all the meaning of the original titles, but distributors think we are bit too stupid and bad in English over here to understand the word “hangover” (and what is sad is that they are kinda right). Anyway, you probably already know this movie as it was a huge international success, but it is the story of four friends who go to Las Vegas to celebrate a bachelor party. They wake up in a huge mess with no memories of what happened and must find their missing friend while trying to recoup what went on last night. I’m personally usually not that fond of American comedy films as the cultural barrier in humor can be quite violent from France to the USA, but that one was really cool and funny. The actors are good, pitch is quite relatable, rhythm is well driven and Las Vegas is a perfect set for this story. If you didn’t already, watch it and you’re almost guaranteed to have a good time.
That's an impressive casting for a legendary heist!
Here I am talking about the 2001 version, which is the remake of the 1960’s version that I haven’t seen. So in my memory, I don’t remember seeing so many stars starring in a movie all together (except maybe Expandables in another style). So the story is about a crew of professional thieves, each one the best in their own domain, grouping together to perform a huge spectacular heist in Las Vegas. I think this movie is actually a bit underrated these days, in France at least, because of the two next movies who were just more of the exact same thing (but with our national Vincent Cassel in addition) and it is suffering of its image of gathering of stars for the sake of it. If you’d watch it again, you’ll see that this movie was a real good blockbuster perfectly driven by the director. It’s a great movie to watch and relax to see some of our favourite stars performing a spectacular heist in Las Vegas!
One of Martin Scorcese's masterpieces, a truly classic gangster movie
The mythical movie Casino from the legendary Martin Scorcese is by far first on my personal list. I even think it is the second-best movie in the career of the genius director after Goodfellas and it’s in my top 5 favourites movies of all time! In this movie, your follow Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci playing two mobsters friends building their crime and gambling empire in early 70s Las Vegas, before de Niro meets Sharon Stone and all comes to worse. More than a beautiful mob stories with some of the best actors in the cinema history, it is also a really interesting fable about old school Las Vegas and how it changed to become the gambling Disneyland it is today. Anyway, it is the type of movie I don’t want to say too much about because it is in the list of the classic movies you have to watch at least once in your life and you can’t really talk about cinema. If you didn’t see Casino yet, just download it right now (or buy it if you feel law-abiding) and watch it!
That was my personal Top 5 movie set in Las Vegas! Don’t hesitate to tell me which are your favourite ones in the comments! And also don’t forget to check our Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas T-shirt!