In a movie that features the torture of a man by a vice and the beating of a woman with a baseball bat, it’s clear that Martin Scorsese isn’t afraid to show what goes on in the shadowy world of casino gambling. Yet, this film is also one of the most positive and accurate portrayals of Sin City. Unlike Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls or other movies that only scratch the surface of Las Vegas’ glitzy parties and weekend getaways, Casino shows its darker side—and that’s what makes it so memorable.
While Robert De Niro is excellent as Sam “Ace” Rothstein, it’s Sharon Stone who steals the movie. Her performance as the sexy but volatile Ginger McKenna is a star-making turn, both building on and inverting her earlier success in Basic Instinct. She’s a magnetic force to be reckoned with, her lust for men and money apparent in every scene. She’s a dangerous combination of femme fatale and amoral gambler, making her a captivating watch throughout the three-hour film.
The fact is, casinos are designed to keep people playing and gambling as long as possible. They use a variety of psychological tricks and tactics to make sure that players are sucked into the games. For example, they remove all indicators of time so that the player doesn’t realize he or she has been in the casino for too long or that it’s nearly time to leave. They offer free drinks and comps, and they use music to create a pulsating atmosphere that’s hard to resist.