The Best Movies Set Around a Blackjack Table
The simplest of card games has served as the setting for some of the most memorable on-screen moments, from amusing antics to intense dramas and everything in between.
The Best Movies Set Around a Blackjack Table
From Academy Award nominees to side-splitting comedies, we step into the high-stakes world of blackjack for our latest movie roundup. Greetings, everyone.
The game is blackjack.
The blackjack table has unquestionably played a key role in the casino drama shown in a fair share of films over the years. The simplest of card games has served as the setting for some of the most memorable on-screen moments, from amusing antics to intense dramas and everything in between. In our article, we'll go through 6 of the best.
The Hangover 2009
The sequence at the blackjack table is one of the few times when things go as planned in this late-nineties cult comedy classic, which is otherwise one continuous stream of awful catastrophes after their unfortunate mishaps. Although it's to clean up the mess they've created for themselves (trying to retrieve $80,000 worth of chips is a big mess), you still have to give them credit for their victory. The main reason the sequence is as wonderful as it is is Alan's persistent poker face, which is portrayed to perfection by Zach Galifianakis, who is usually terrific. What's not to love about this movie that is endlessly quotable, has limitless replay potential, and is a fun depiction of one of the best card games out there?
Rain Man 1989
If you're looking for a movie that not only has a fantastic drama but also includes a blackjack scene, look no further than Barry Levinson's 1989 road movie classic Rain Man. (not to mention two outstanding lead performances).
Rain Man, an Oscar nominee for Best Picture and Best Actor, tells the story of two brothers: a young hustler (Tom Cruise) and a genius (Dustin Hoffman). The legendary statement "Rain Man, let's play some cards" opens the blackjack sequence, which is accompanied by a snappy, synth-heavy '80s beat. With juice in hand, the two suit-clad brothers approach the table and start playing. Before you know it, they are consistently succeeding.
Obviously, we had to discuss the 1995 film Casino in our article on blackjack and popular culture. Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci feature in a criminal drama by Martin Scorsese. The narrative, too? Well, naturally, a casino. While the blackjack table appears multiple times in the film, Nicky Santoro's profanity-filled outburst at the table is probably the most well-known scene. This sequence will make you laugh and squirm all at once because it is delivered with the unsettling blend of threat and humour that Pesciis is known for. Are there any other performers who possess such talent? Not so sure, actually.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
You would have difficulty finding a more dramatic segue from Pesci to Powers. In addition to being yet another hilarious performance from Mike Myers, this sequence in particular gave birth to the now-iconic statement, "I also like to live dangerously". Powers' blackjack abilities leave something to be desired; our hero chooses to stay on 5 rather than hit, and surprise, surprise, he loses. However, if it brings him closer to Dr Evil and helps him save the world, is it worth it? Who are we to judge, then?
James Bond: License to Kill (1989)
How could we write an article about the most fantastic cinematic moments at the blackjack table, without mentioning anything from what is unquestionably the greatest (non-parody) spy franchise of all time – James Bond. Timothy Dalton played the title character in only two of the Bond films, both of which were released in 1989. This blackjack scene offers everything you could possibly want, including big stakes, sophisticated style, and unrivalled glitz. Even the phrase "Shaken, not stirred" from one of the series' most recognisable scenes appears here. The scenario is fraught with tension and captures the essence of Fleming's books: danger and espionage in the most opulent of surroundings.
Wild Card (2015)
Wild Card is the last and most current film on our list, starring the trustworthy Jason Statham in one of his customarily gruff-voiced acting roles. Wild Card provides precisely the kind of popcorn-eating action you want to snuggle down to on a Saturday night. It stars a bodyguard with a gambling addiction who, perhaps mistakenly, ends up looking for a job as protection in a casino of all places.
In Its final blackjack scene (as there's more than one) features the protagonist betting over half a million dollars – $525,000 to be exact – and losing. It serves as a reminder of the game's highs and lows, and Statham plays it perfectly. It's the actor doing what the actor does best – it might not break the mould, but it sure is fun to watch. And that's it! When one of the greatest card games in history was represented on film, it happened six times. There is something here for everyone, so jump in whether comedy or action is more to your taste.