Casino fans enjoy the slots, the tables, the exciting atmosphere of the gambling world. Sometimes it's also fun to sit back and watch other people live in that world. The past decade has seen many gambling-themed movies, often with star-studded casts. Some flopped with critics while others fared quite well. The following 10 movies debuted, or will debut, between the years of 2003 and 2013. Most are now available on DVD.
"Runner, Runner": An Upcoming 2013 Gambling Movie
Fans of Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake anxiously await the September 2013 release of "Runner, Runner," a film about an offshore Internet gambling operator and his star student. Written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, the movie is classified as a dramatic thriller. The Koppelman/Levine duo also wrote "Ocean's 13," the last installment of the famed Ocean trilogy. Director Brad Furman, relatively new to the film world, has two major motion pictures under his belt: "The Take" from 2007 and "The Lincoln Lawyer" from 2011.
"Lay the Favorite": A 2012 Sports Gambling Movie
Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta Jones star in this film about a young woman's experiences in the world of high stakes sports betting. A partially true story, the movie is based on a memoir by Beth Raymer which chronicles her adventures as a twenty-something entrenched in the sex and gambling industries. Actress Rebecca Hall plays Beth, Willis plays the sports-betting man she falls in love with, and Zeta Jones portrays the double-crossed wife. Directed by award-winning Stephen Frears, the film was billed as a comedy and received rather poor reviews from critics. It became available on DVD in March 2013.
"Guns, Girls and Gambling": A 2011 Native American Casino Movie
Actors Gary Oldman and Christian Slater co-star with comedian Dane Cook in this comedy thriller set around a Native American casino. The main character, John Smith, is wrongly accused of stealing a valuable Apache artifact and has only 24 hours to return it. In that 24 hours, he is chased by police, cowboys, and Elvis impersonators. Directed by Michael Winnick, the movie did not fare very well with critics. It became available for DVD rental in January 2013.
"21": A 2008 Blackjack Movie
Like "Lay the Favorite," "21" is a true tale about an extraordinary occurrence in the gambling world. Six M.I.T. students, led by their math professor, Kevin Spacey, use their exceptional wits to count blackjack cards and make millions (read this). Actors Jim Sturgess and Kate Bosworth star as two of the ringleader students. Laurence Fishburne plays the security chief who vows to take down the M.I.T. crowd. The film, directed by Australian Robert Luketic, did not fare well in the eyes of critics, although the original novel by Ben Mezrich, titled "Bringing Down the House," made the best seller list.
"Ocean's Thirteen": A 2007 Vegas Revenge Movie
The third in director Steven Soderbergh's Ocean trilogy, "Ocean's Thirteen" scored high marks with critics. Danny Ocean and his pals set out to get revenge on casino tycoon Willy Bank, played by Al Pacino, for some of Bank's previous transgressions. Featuring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Pacino, the film generated positive buzz and drew attention and revenue from fans who enjoyed the first two Ocean installments.
"Casino Royale": A 2006 James Bond Movie
This remake of the 1967 film of the same name introduces Daniel Craig as the newest James Bond. Among other things, Bond finds himself in a high stakes Texas Hold 'em game at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. The movie received enthusiastic reviews from critics, many of whom put it on their top 10 list for the year. Directed by Martin Campbell, "Casino Royale" 2006 is the third film adaptation of Ian Fleming's same-titled novel.
"Even Money": A 2006 Gambling Addiction Movie
Premiering the same year as Craig's famed "Casino Royale," this film flopped in spite of an impressive cast including Kelsey Grammar, Danny DeVito, Forest Whittaker and Kim Basinger. Under the guidance of long-time director Mark Rydell, the story follows three desperate gambling addicts during the week before a highly anticipated basketball game. As the three individuals' stories develops, the characters are drawn together. The film ends when the characters' worlds collide with tragic consequences.
"Two for the Money": A 2005 Football and Gambling movie
Sports gambling is the theme of this dramatic film directed by D.J. Caruso who, among other things, directed Val Kilmer in "The Salton Sea." Matthew McConaughey portrays Brandon Lang, a football player who turns to sports gambling when an injury prevents him from carrying on with his sports career. Business tycoon Walter Abrams, played by Al Pacino, discovers Lang's uncanny ability to predict winning football teams and promptly puts him to work. Rene Russo plays Abrams' wife. Although the film is padded with a famous cast, it flopped with critics.
"Ocean's Twelve": A 2004 Casino Crime Move
The sequel to the blockbuster hit "Ocean's Eleven," "Ocean's Twelve" follows Danny Ocean and his gang as they are pulled once again into a life of crime. Their goal this time is to steal a coveted Faberge egg from a museum in Rome. Like its predecessor, the film was directed by Steven Soderbergh and features an impressive cast of celebrities. It was the 10th highest grossing film in 2004.
Shade: A 2003 Card Shark Movie
Damien Nieman, a real-life card shark, wrote and directed this movie starring Gabriel Byrne, Thandie Newton, and Sylvester Stallone. It is about two con artists, played by Byrne and Newton, who try to outwit a card shark, played by Stallone, in a high-stakes poker game. Critics gave the Los Angeles-based film mixed reviews.
Hollywood cranks out a gambling-themed movie almost every year, which goes to show that people love watching others live the casino life as much as they love casinos themselves. Some movies fare better than others at the box office, but one thing is for certain: there is no shortage of entertaining gambling movies in theaters and for rent on DVD.