Filmzie rates two casino movies where arch-rivals pitch their wits against each other and card sharks outwit casinos in Vegas and Europe. (Image courtesy of MEHDI HASAN on Vecteezy)

Casino movies have a special place in the movie industry, whether the movie’s theme is entirely based on casino gaming or there are scenes like those in James Bond Casino Royale where arch rivals are playing a game of wits against one another. To keep the trend going, we looked at some of the highest-earning movies themed on gambling, and the team at Filmzie rated their top two.

Take a guess which two movies made it to the top of the list!

21 – The MIT Movie Review (2008)

21 Movie Trailer – Sony Pictures Entertainment Official YouTube Channel

This movie is based on the real-life story of six highly intelligent MIT students who have been trained to be an expert team in the art of the game of blackjack. So that we all fully understand the movie title, MIT stands for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Kevin Spacey stars in the movie. The plan is to devise a fail-safe method of using mathematics to enable a blackjack player to have an advantage over the dealer and basically have a winning formula in every game of blackjack. The ultimate aim of the team of students is to head to Las Vegas and hit the casinos for millions. The group consists of Fisher, Choi, Jill and Kianna.

Ben Campbell, a rather nerdish young student, played by Jim Sturgess, is a hard-working student and in order to earn a small salary is working part-time in a men’s clothing shop. His current situation sees him working with his friends at college to try and win a robotics competition, but his ultimate aim is to be a doctor.

To achieve this he needs to win a scholarship to the Harvard School of Medicine with the intent of achieving his long-time dream. The tuition fees would be a massive three hundred thousand dollars, which was way out of reach of Ben’s finances as he comes from a working-class family already struggling financially. Bens maths professor Micky Rosa, played by Kevin Spacey, introduces him into the group already being trained on how they can be guaranteed to win at blackjack with this secretive method of counting cards. a method well-known as a tactic that cannot be used in land-based casinos or in online casino players playing live casino bonus games.

Initially, Ben turns down the chance of joining the group being trained as he is a little wary of such a scheme. He is gently persuaded to become involved in the group by a beautiful girl named Jill, played by Kate Bosworth, and eventually agrees to join as he is really desperate to obtain the tuition fees to get into the medical school. Ben is a quick-learner and is soon up to speed with the card-counting concept and successfully passes the test to join the group. He has greatly impressed Rosa with the speed in which he has learned the system. The beautiful Jill turns down Bens amorous advances in order to maintain a purely business relationship and concentrate on the card-counting plan.

Now the group are fully trained they set off on the first trip to Las Vegas and the blackjack sessions begin. They are flown to Vegas over many weekends in order to perfect their winning technique. The training by Rosa pays off and the students are successful with their plan and win time and time again. Ben quickly becomes Rosa’s favourite player as he consistently wins large sums. Not quite everything goes to plan as one of the security guards, Cole Williams, played by Laurence Fishburne, spots something and becomes suspicious of the way the group are constantly winning. The security guards at the casino are soon to be replaced by new face-recognition systems so this could be the last time that a human guard could catch such a possible fraud happening.

The actual system of card-counting that the group are using is not actually an offence in the casino but it is general knowledge that if anyone is caught in such a scheme they would risk a beating in the basement.

Now the beautiful Jill decides to accept Bens advances and the pair end up in a free suite at the Hard Rock Casino where they enjoy some very pleasant times together. Ben feels that his life has changed for the better, enjoying a far more luxurious lifestyle than he has been used to, and this could go on forever.

Unfortunately it turns out that is not the case. Ben is now a totally different person. The result is he loses everything, including his love interest Jill. Because he has become so obsessed with the blackjack plan he has neglected his friends who were working on the engineering project with him so they all disown him. At the table he seems distracted due to all his mixed emotions. This causes him to lose two hundred thousand dollars instead of his usual wins. This angers Rosa and walks away from the group and demands that Ben fully repays the loss. How could this all go so wrong and how can he get his life back together?

Ben decides his only course of action is to try and win his way back into favour with the group and reunite with Professor Rosa and Jill who he spent some memorable times with. The group now back together decides to go for it one more time and they head back to Las Vegas. How will it end up? Will the group achieve further success, or will it all come to a sticky end?

Rating: 910 – you can’t beat a movie where brainiacs beat the house. Not to mention 21 gives you an inside look into actual events back when card counting really was taking casinos to cleaners.

Casino Royale Movie Review (2006)

James Bond Casino Royale – James Bond 007 Official YouTube Channel

Casino Royale is the twenty first movie in the Bond series and is based on Ian Fleming’s first novel. Daniel Craig stars as agent 007 and makes an excellent job of it in our opinion. We have no Q or Moneypenny in Casino Royale which is a move away from the earlier Bond movies, with the role of M being a much larger character.

A change from the norm. Craig’s Bond does not care if his martinis are either stirred or shaken. This is a very different Bond movie which will either be enjoyed by regular 007 followers or not and will also attract new Bond fans. Craig appears to have more feelings than previous Bonds and seems to actually care for people. We think everyone has their own favourite 007 for their own reasons but Craig will win a lot of fans in this movie.

Bond heads to Madagascar, a change from the regular locations such as Monte Carlo, and kills a terrorist in an embassy who was planning to bomb Miami airport. On the victim’s phone, he discovers the Ellipsis code. A link leads Bond to Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelsen, who funds terrorists around the world. Bond returns  to the Bahamas and finds M, played extremely well by Judi Dench, waiting for him. M seemingly is not a great fan of 007. It transpires that the wife of the man he had been following has been murdered. Not much time is spent on this scene and rapidly moves on to the next assignment.

The romantic storyline is provided by an accountant named Vesper Lynn, who 007 becomes involved with.

007 discovers a plan by Le Chiffe to set up an elaborate poker game in order to raise finances for his business. Bond is dispatched on a mission to Montenegro where he checks into the Hotel Splendid to join this high-stakes game and play against Le Chiffre. The plan by MI6 is that their newest agent will outplay Le Chiffre and ruin the terrorist-funding organization. The plan is to deprive Le Chiffre of at least ten million dollars which should seriously damage the terrorist organisations he funds. Le Chiffe is in serious debt to those that supply funds to him so this is going to be an extremely important game for both sides.

When Bond loses during the game Vesper refuses to assist in buying him back into the game which includes many wins and losses on both sides with 007 leaving the table and returning only to eventually beat Le Chiffre. The film includes many lingering close-ups on the two opponents’ eyes, including the tears of blood from the eye of the terrorist-funder crook, to build the suspense. The stakes are incredibly high with millions being gambled and some very intense moments. Bond has the winning hand of course, and a massive pot is pushed across the table to Bond. The poker game forms the main focus of the movie as the title suggests.

Following the game Le Chiffre kidnaps Vesper with the intention of luring Bond into a trap. They end up in an abandoned ship where both are tortured. Le Chiffre wants to force Bond into revealing the access code to the bank account where the poker winnings have been deposited. The sudden appearance of a stranger who kills Le Chiffre saves the day and Bond and Vesper are freed safe and sound.

Moving ahead with the story Bond decides to quit his position with MI6 and travel the world along with his only ever true love Vesper. They travel to Venice and while they are there, Bond discovers that Vesper is not as she appears and has actually stolen all the winnings from the poker game. He decides to follow Vesper and watches on as she hands over the cash to a strange man. This of course results in a fight scene.

Vesper dies bringing on some emotional moments when Bond discovers the real truth behind Vespers actions. He eventually is told by M that Vesper had been blackmailed and was in fact forced to hand over those poker winnings in a bid to save Bond from Le Chiffre. Bond listens to a phone message from Vesper explaining the situation that she had found herself in and in fact tells Bond exactly where he will be able to find the man who had blackmailed her and taken the money.

Casino Royale includes all the usual Bond action and romance scenes but they are portrayed differently. You need to watch this with an open mind and come up with your own opinions but all in all, we believe the movie is an excellent piece of scriptwriting and casting with a great job from Martin Campbell as Director. See what you think.

Rating: 8/10 – I think this got a high rating by the Filmzie team because of one pure and simple fact – James Bond feaver. Also, it’s great to see the high-roller casino life in certain scenes and of course, the Bond cars, which has nothing to gambling, but still I just had to metnion it.

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