Plot: Sam 'Ace' Rothstein, a mob-connected casino operator in Las Vegas, attempts a civilized lifestyle with his money-conditional wife, Ginger. Nicky Santoro, a boyhood friend of Ace and now a Made-Man of the Mafia, arrives in town with an ambitious agenda of his own that soon disrupts Ace's life.
My rating: 9/10
Will I watch it again? Bet on it!
This is one of those Scorsese pictures that gets overlooked. It came five years after his masterpiece (one of many, I should say), GOODFELLAS (1990), and it's got some of the same faces. I've heard a lot of people dismiss CASINO as a second rate GOODFELLAS and that's just asinine. If GOODFELLAS didn't exist those same people would probably rate CASINO as a brilliant film. Like GOODFELLAS, the story is amazing as are the performances...basically everything in front of and behind the camera and, as usual, Scorsese's choices in music are inspiring.
Pesci was a mother fucker in GOODFELLAS but he's ramped it up even more and he's downright scary - definitely not a person you'd like to meet in real life. De Niro is great as expected in a Scorsese picture and Stone hasn't been better. I would have never guessed she could actually act. Woods plays a right skeezeball and you can't lose by having the great Don Rickles in your movie which reminds me of how many comedians are in this thing: Don Rickles, Kevin Pollak, Alan King, Dick Smothers and Steve Allen. Nice. The ONLY thing that hurts the film is that, after a whiz bang first two hours, the final can't help but feel slow. It's still a great third of the movie, it's just the pacing is different than the first two thirds.
CASINO is a great ride that's almost as great as GOODFELLAS and one I'll still visit just as much. Scorsese is probably the most gifted and consistent director of his generation and it'd be a crime to overlook this film because you think it's a second-rate GOODFELLAS. Even if that were true, Scorsese's second-rate anything beats most director's career best.