The entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas, has always been a gem for filmmakers, a place where glitz, glamour, wealth and exuberance is offset by gangster mobs, mafia, murder, lies and corruption.
There have been countless film directors who have used Las Vegas as the location for their films – so many it would be almost impossible to count them. However, the following films listed are all films which put Vegas at its core, exploring all its vices and virtues.
These are our favourites:
A movie by Martin Scorsese, this film is the epitome of a Las Vegas film – a tale about greed, deception, money, power, and murder. Starring Robert De Niro as ‘Ace’ – a resourceful mafia associate on his rise to power as he takes over Vegas’ Casino circuit, and Sharon Stone playing ‘Ginger’ his ex-hustler wife. This film tells the story of the underbelly of Las Vegas and those who ran it. The corruption, violence and sex involved makes this film perfect for those who are a fan of The Godfather and similar movies.
For those interested in gambling, this film takes you on a thrilling ride through the reality of Vegas and the gambling industry. Unlike today where we have online casinos which are accessible to everyone, Vegas was in its prime (and arguably still is) the epicenter of gambling, controlled by gangs and was extremely decadent, and needless to say dangerous.
The Hangover (2009)
The Hangover, which was largely filmed on location in Caesars Palace, a famous symbol of Vegas, promises all the crazy Vegas stories you would expect to hear about your mate’s stag do… except you can multiply that by a thousand.
There is a reason why this film is extremely popular, as its humour appeals to pretty much everyone, with outlandish crude humour and ridiculous situations. Three guys wake up in Vegas after a night of heavy partying, only to find they have lost the Bachelor to be wed that morning.
On their adventure to find him, they discover– much to their horror, what they did the night before. Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and of course Ken Jeong as the memorable crazy Chinese gangster Leslie Chow, this Todd Phillips film is a classic in the making.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, despite its mixed reviews, is a must see for Vegas Lovers and film lovers. Starring Johnny Depp, it is a visual marathon, summarizing what is a massive trip in Vegas, where reality and the surreal is blurred to great comedic effect.
Written by the cult writer Hunter S Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas started out as a book first serialized in Rolling Stone magazine that ‘grapples with the implications of what [Thompson] considered the failure of 1960’s counterculture.’ Thompson himself is a man of great intrigue, having spent a year riding with the Hells Angels motorbike gang just in order to give a first-hand account of the lives and experience of their members. If you’re into cult films, you must check this one out, if not for Thompson alone.
Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
A tale of finding love in unexpected places. This romantic drama sees Ben (Nicolas Cage), a depressed screenwriter who goes to Vegas to drink himself to death, meeting Sera (Elisabeth Shue) a prostitute to form a toxic pairing.
This film, based on a semi-autobiographical novel by John O’Brien, who committed suicide after he signed away the film rights to the novel, had massive critical acclaim and won Cage the best actor award at the Golden Globes and Academy awards. It is not your conventional love story but a story that is grounded in the bittersweet notions of life, death and the desperation to love and be loved.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Your classic star-studded, Hollywood heist movie. Oceans Eleven is the classic Vegas display of wealth wonder and winning big – but doing it with style, indulgence and a bit of criminality. This film by Steven Soderbergh stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, and Andy Garcia, who are all part of an ensemble assembled for their skills as they take on a big casino heist worth $150 Million.
This remake of the 60’s Rat Pack original of the same name is one for those who love thrillers, action, and comedy. If you haven’t watched Ocean’s Eleven by now then what have you been doing with your life. Watch it now!