Casinos are often associated with the glamour and luxury of high society – or with the hope of making it big and starting over in life. Both of these elements make for great Hollywood blockbusters. Over the years, we have seen some great movies set in casinos – to the point where Netflix has a separate category dedicated to them – as well as some excellent movies where a casino somehow features as the setting for an unexpected plot twist. Here are our top three picks in the second category.
Run Lola Run
This German thriller movie came out of nowhere back in 1998 and managed to win over the hearts of cinephiles worldwide. Franka Potente stars as the titular Lola, who receives a phone call from her boyfriend Manni, portrayed by Moritz Bleibtreu, explaining that he needs to retrieve 100,000 Deutsche Mark within the next 20 minutes or the mob will kill him. The movie then unfolds in three different storylines, the first two of which end in catastrophe for Lola and Manni.
In the third and final storyline, Lola walks into a casino and bets all of her money again and again on number 20 in a game of European roulette – which, unlike American roulette, only features one zero slot and has no added “00” slot, which makes for a lower house edge and gives Lola a better chance at winning. She ends up winning just enough to make sure that her boyfriend is safe.
The whole Ocean’s trilogy is based on the premise of casinos – and it is one of the reasons the movies are so well-beloved. Yet this one stands out for putting a spin on its setting by turning to slot machines. As free-spins.ca explains, online casinos often offer free spins and other bonuses to gamblers as an incentive to play, which is the best way for players to boost their chances of hitting the jackpot. But in Ocean’s Thirteen, the Ocean gang takes over.
As part of their plan, they engineer the casino’s slot machines so that they would simultaneously hit payouts of over $500 million. This would send the casino into a state of emergency and allow them to act unnoticed in the mayhem – which is precisely what happens in one of the best casino scenes in movie history.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Casinos and gambling are apparently a favorite pastime across the galaxy, so in the latest Star Wars sequel trilogy installment, Finn and Rose, along with BB-8, find themselves mingling with the Canto Bight Casino crowd across poker and dice games, trying to spot a codebreaker played by Benicio Del Toro. In one of the most hilariously offensive casino scenes, an alien mistakes BB-8 for a slot machine and tries to put some coins in him, a gesture that the proud droid takes surprisingly well, pocketing the money in the process. Even though the scene does not end too well for our heroes, it provided us with a Star Wars setting we’d never expected to see, which is pivotal for the film’s legacy.
There are classic movies that revolve around iconic casino games like poker, baccarat, and blackjack, but there are also some great movies where a casino scene is just an excuse to introduce an unexpected or fun element. Or, in the case of Lola Run, to make a philosophical statement about the randomness of life and destiny.