It’s been a long while since I saw this, but two people have recently told me it’s their favourite Scorsese film so I thought I’d pay it another visit.
Like most of his work it sucks you right into its seedy underbelly, spinning its yarn to the audience by using its characters to do the voice-over. Never been to Vegas, never dealt with the mob? Don’t worry, they say, we’ll hold your hand. And it works. Perhaps the middle third gets a little aimless but you feel the highs and lows just like in Goodfellas.
The key difference here is the fish-out-of-water setting, gangsters finding themselves in a new pond and realising the untapped potential of it all.
And yet all the jewels, money and pastel suits in the world can’t save these people from their fates. They are stuck in the casino themselves, and in the end the house collects.
Flashy performances all-round while De Niro keeps his cool in the middle of it all.