Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro) used to be a simple bookie. One hell of a bookie, but nothing more. His talent at his job made the Mob think that he would be perfect to run a casino in Vegas. Rothstein took the job and everything worked out perfect. But Rothstein made a few mistakes. First, he married a girl (Sharon Stone) who didn’t love him. Second, he was a good friend of Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), a mean trouble maker who wanted to make Vegas his own.
I love this movie. It’s an epic tale, superbly told. The storytelling is rich, inventive and gripping. The way the Mob skimmed the casinos is fascinating and Scorsese’s direction is brilliant every step of the way. He tells this story with great energy and perfect pacing. The film is full of cool details, and everything seems just right, from the always dynamic visuals to the wall-to-wall voice-over narration and pop music cues. I especially love the gambling and hustling sequences and all the bloody beatings, but there are also quieter character moments where it’s the actors who impress.
Robert De Niro is awesome as Rothstein – combine his huge talent with Scorsese’s and you’re sure to get a great film. Joe Pesci plays Santoro, a character similar to the ones he played in “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas”. Once again, he’s hilarious as this mean little bastard with lots of money and women and the shortest fuse in the world. Sharon Stone is surprisingly good as Ginger, Ace’s wife (though giving her the Golden Globe might have been pushing it).
Altogether, this is one memorable movie. For some, it will suffer the comparison with “Goodfellas” but, while it’s not quite as flawless as that earlier picture, Scorsese is still at the top of his game and way ahead of most of his peers.
The one hole I find in “Casino” is that I still don’t get how Ace can trust Ginger and why she keeps running back to the lowlife pimp played by James Woods. But this is less a weakness than a mystery, and it might actually make the movie all the more intriguing.