A casino isn’t a glamorous thing; it’s a place where people gamble and lose money. Despite the fact that they add luxuries like restaurants, free drinks and stage shows to their gambling facilities, they’re basically just public places where a person can lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars with the roll of a dice or spin of a wheel. And while many people walk into casinos with the intent to have fun and leave with some pocket change, the reality is that most people end up losing money hand over fist. So how do casinos keep their patrons so enthralled with the prospect of winning big that they’ll continue to play for hours and spend their hard-earned cash on a game that statistically gives the house an edge? This is a question that Casino attempts to answer through an exploration of the various tactics casinos employ to manipulate their customers.
De Niro is solid as the slick, confident casino owner, but it’s Stone who really steals the show. She exudes a sexy, unflappable charm that both builds on and inverts the tough girl image she established in Basic Instinct. As a result, she is one of the most likable characters in recent cinema and makes her performance more than just a rote exercise in femme fatality. And, unlike most gangster movies of the time, Scorsese doesn’t shy away from some truly hellacious violence, including a popped eyeball and a sound-designed baseball bat beating that almost made the film unrated.