Even though people often see Las Vegas as a whole, there are several venues in the city that stand out in the sense that they have made a huge name for themselves. Newer joints have come and gone, but the Bellagio remains a favourite among veterans and amateurs alike, especially the casino’s poker room. Inspired by the romantic charm of Lake Como, the Bellagio resort, luxury hotel and casino keeps trying to make the impressions last – many people will agree that very few things on this world can match the dancing Fountains of Bellagio or the Dale Chihuly’s Fiori di Como lobby ceiling composed of over 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers. It really is no surprise that this prepossessing venue would attract multiple Hollywood filmmakers to set their productions somewhere on the 126-acre property on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada.
The glorious setting served as a background for action/crime flicks mostly, and we’ve made a selection of some of the best movies to watch if you want to see the Bellagio on screen.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
The success of the story about Danny Ocean and his jaw-dropping heists propelled several sequels, but the first one in the series, the 2001 movie with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts seems to have a special place in the hearts of many cinephiles worldwide. Inspired by the original “Ocean’s 11” from 1960 starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, this one addresses the beauty of the heist in modern times. With eleven accomplices, Danny sets out to rob three prestigious Las Vegas casinos at the same time – the Bellagio, the Mirage and the MGM Grand.
Conceived as a playful crime thriller, Ocean’s Eleven has undeniably clever plot twists and a line of Hollywood A-listers to boot. All of the actors did an excellent job with their roles and even though the film does not offer deep contemplations on the world and its problems, it comes with loads of fun, exciting moments. The Bellagio was used widely throughout the film, from the fountains and the entrance, to the Botanic Gardens and the Picasso Restaurant. In one of the classic scenes, Julia Roberts walks down the Grand Staircase of the Bellagio; this staircase in the Bellagio’s Conservatory was demolished two years after the movie was released because the proprietor needed more space for the new Spa Tower wing. In another iconic introductory scene, we first see Lyman Zerga as he places a $65,000 bet at a Bellagio baccarat table. After the team finished the job they observe the fountains accompanied by the classical music piece “Clair de Lune” by Debussy.
Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
Danny Ocean rounds up the boys once again, for a third time, to go after a double-crossing casino owner named Willy Bank (played by Al Pacino). This time, it’s not about the money. It’s about vengeance and protecting the interests of their friend and one of the original eleven, Reuben Tishkoff (played by Elliott Gould). The filmmakers did a great throwback to the end of Ocean’s Eleven (2001) when all the characters are standing in front of the Bellagio resort watching the dance of the fountains. In the third instalment, we see Danny (Clooney) and Rusty (Pitt) reminiscing about meeting Reuben as they are walking outside of the Bellagio with “Clair de Lune” filling the background.
Andy Garcia’s character (once the opponent, now an associate of Danny’s squad) Terry Benedict, mentions the ‘Nuff Said dominoes game at one point. There is no such game at the Bellagio, as there is only a Chinese dominoes game called Pai Gow. The same character complains that the Bank Casino “throws a shadow over my pool”, referring to the pool in front of the Bellagio. The Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at MGM Mirage (owners of the Bellagio) once confirmed that the majority of shooting took place in their executive offices and added that even though the offices look like a movie set, they are genuine, complete with “tasteful off-white tones, vast plate glass windows looking on to lush gardens, and a Klimt hanging above the desk”.
Lucky You (2007)
Lucky You is a romance drama starring Australian hunk Eric Bana and the endearing Drew Barrymore. Bana portrays a hotshot poker player in Las Vegas named Huck Cheever, a bloke whose cleverness is his strong side, but the emotions are his weakness. Barrymore assumes the role of Billie Offer, an honest young woman who starts seeing Huck after being presented as new in town. Huck is in the need of a $10,000 entry fee for the main event – the No Limit Texas Hold’em tournament at the Poker World Series, and by the time the tournament starts he is deeply in debt. To make matters worse, Cheever’s estranged father, L.C. Cheever (Robert Duvall), who just so happens to be a two-time World Series of Poker Champion, rolls into town and enters the tournament. They both advance to the final table of nine. After multiple falling outs and quarrelling with both his father and Billie, Huck manages to restore his relationships and the movie has a happy ending.
Eric Bana and Robert Duvall were coached for months by Doyle Brunson on how to play like professional poker players. Most of the scenes where Bana gambles in Vegas are filmed in the Bellagio and the famous fountains of the Bellagio resort are also showcased. There were some production setbacks, though, since the filmmakers wanted to shoot at the Bellagio’s poker room, but it had been renovated since 2003, the year that the film takes place. Instead, they’ve built an exact replica of the original poker room and furnished it with original items, as the casino was auctioning chandeliers and furniture from the old poker room at the time of the set’s construction and the production crew bought them.
Jason Bourne (2016)
The Bourne saga started with The Bourne Identity, which was released in 2002, and continued with Supremacy (2004), Ultimatum (2007) and Legacy (2012). The most recent one of the series is Jason Bourne (2016), a direct sequel to The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). The absolute star of these movies is Matt Damon, even though Jeremy Renner took over in Legacy as Aaron Cross, an operative belonging to a Defence Department black ops program called Operation Outcome. Jason Bourne is a premium action thriller which engages the viewer as he or she follows the CIA’s most dangerous former operative as he uncovers more sensitive truths about his past.
When the film came out, everyone in the crew was excited to show Las Vegas as a part of the Bourne world. There is one particular sequence that flatters the Bellagio, and Matt Damon was immensely proud of this one even though he filmed many times in Vegas before. It is a massive car chase that involved 170 vehicles in front of the Bellagio fountains on Las Vegas Boulevard. The stunts performed in this pulsating sequence are iconic and there is one tracking shot when you can see the fountains going off in the background. Jason Bourne won Best Thriller at the Empire Awards in 2017.
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