If you ask people what makes a great movie, some will say the actors; others will say cinematography. Since we all have individual tastes, what makes a movie great to one person may be significantly different from what another person considers critical to a great film. One thing is undeniable: the movie’s setting can make or break it. Filmmakers know this. That’s why some places appear time and again in films. Las Vegas is one of those places. As the world capital of entertainment, Las Vegas is the perfect backdrop for movies. The city has it all, streets with glowing buildings, casinos with high rollers, and secrets around every corner, from Caesar’s Palace to the Bellagio to experience the ultimate adult playground. There are so many experiences to be had, including playing poker at one of the top places in Las Vegas, watching the Bellagio fountain show, or stopping by the iconic Caesars Palace. Filmmakers seek to capture all of these things and more in their movies, making Las Vegas one of the world’s most popular movie locations.
The 1995 Martin Scorsese masterpiece Casino bring the mob to Las Vegas. The film stars Sharon Stone, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci. Scorsese’s brilliant use of cinematography results in countless iconic scenes. This movie is a wild ride that evokes many emotions in its viewers, making it among the best movies ever set in Las Vegas.
Jason Bourne, 2016
The fourth installment of the popular Bourne series takes place on the Las Vegas Strip. As usual, the CIA is hunting Bourne in this movie which starts with ex-CIA operative Niki Parsons working with a whistleblower seeking to expose the CIA’s black ops. After hacking the CIA and downloading all information on their black ops, Niki discovers Bourne was part of Treadston.
When the CIA discovers the hack, they set out to find Parsons and Bourne. Bourne crosses paths with his enemies in Las Vegas. The movie answers the question of whether Bourne settles the score with those who betrayed him. While there are a lot of hot movies worth watching, if you haven’t seen Jason Bourne in Las Vegas, it’s worth checking out.
Diamonds Are Forever, 1971
It’s hard to imagine a James Bond movie without a casino scene, and Diamonds Are Forever keeps the tradition going. Willard Whyte’s headquarters, “the Whyte House,” was filmed at the Las Vegas International Hotel (today known as Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino), the reclusive millionaire chased by James Bond. Las Vegas’ most famous resident at the time, Howard Hughes, convinced city officials to shut down the Strip to film the famous Mustang Chase scene.
Leaving Las Vegas, 1995
With Las Vegas in the title, it’s no surprise this film is on a list of the best movies filmed in Las Vegas. If you wander beyond the Strip, you quickly realize Vegas is a city full of broken dreams, people, and fortunes. This film tells their stories through the eyes of a Vegas drifter played by Nicolas Cage and a Vegas prostitute Elizabeth Shue. The movie follows their lives as they deal with everything the city throws at them.
The Hangover, 2009
After watching Leaving Las Vegas, you may be in the mood for a comedy, and The Hangover is one of the best filmed in the city. The runaway hit is about exactly what the title suggests, the experience of being hungover in Vegas. The movie takes a to a bachelor party that has gone very wrong and shows all of the fun and excesses of the city.
Rain Man, 1989
No list about Las Vegas would be complete without the 1989 Academy Award-winning film the Rain Man. The movie follows the story of Charlie Babbit (Tom Cruise), a businessman who cheated out of his inheritance. When he discovers his autistic brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) has inherited $3 million, Charlie kidnaps his brother in an attempt to get the money back from the care center holding it. Along the way, he discovers his brother is a genius and decides to use his brother’s photographic memory to win money at the blackjack tables in Vegas.