Casino ★★★★

My main takeaway from this viewing of Casino is in the title; it’s not “The Casino” or “Tangiers” or “Ace and Nicky.” It’s just Casino. Vegas, the mob, the massive grift, it’s all a microcosm for life. 

The key sequence is early in the picture, where Ace details how a billionaire took his casino for millions and they engineer a scheme to get him back in the building by faking a broken plane. “In the casino,” De Niro says in voiceover as Ace, “the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.”

That’s what they do, and in the end the billionaire loses back everything he’d won and then some. But what Ace doesn’t realize is that life is the real casino, and even when you’re winning, you have to keep playing — until, in the end, they get it all. Ace, Nicky, Ginger, they all get rich beyond most people’s wildest dreams. But they can’t leave the casino. They have to keep playing.

And that’s that.