Decide the truth for yourself in this thrilling true story of the biggest scandal in Las Vegas. Ted Binion (Matthew Modine, TV's Weeds) is Vegas royalty, the prince of the world famous Horseshoe Casino - rich, rowdy and randy. When he falls for Sandy Murphy (Mena Suvari, Beauty Shop) at a local strip club, he becomes trapped in a web of drugs, deception and ultimately his death. His apparent overdose soon unravels into a suspicious homicide case after the urging of Binion's sister Becky (Marcia Gay Harden, TV's Damages). Now Sandy and her boyfriend (Johnathon Schaech, Quarantine) are scrambling to uncover the truth in this shocking tale of love gone sour and greed gone wild.
Sex and drugs always sells. And people know that well enough to make it a front liner to attract their target audience. Whether it’s in real life or in the world of movies, sex spells D-A-N-G-E-R and no one knows it better than those who have been scorched. But what’s life without a little excitement? Which is why, in real life and in movies, sex and drugs are always an essential ingredient for scandals and yes, danger. However, while movies can sensationalise and glamourise the whole idea of the titillation of sex and drugs, it can work the other way too. It can make things boring and drab. Case in point? This made for television movie.
The 90 minute production is based on the true story Vegas casino owner Ted Binion, who died from a mysterious drug overdose. His girlfriend and her boyfriend (nothing to be confused about here – this is a typical case of cheating, of course) were subsequently arrested. What we get in the movie is a courtroom drama of whodunit, revealing some of the darkest sides of human nature. Greed, lust, power – every vice a normal person is capable of.
While the movie had potential to bring out powerful messages, it quickly descends into a typical mind numbing drama telling viewers what they can already predict. It doesn’t help that not much budget was allocated to the production of this television movie, making the production value seem sub standard. One look at the DVD cover, and you’d know we aren’t exactly expecting an impressive eye catching show here.
Credit goes to the cast though, because one can sense that they did put in effort in portraying their roles. Mena Suvari (Factory Girl, American Beauty) plays a stripper who gets into the life of the casino tycoon, and her myriad of expressions, though not the most subtle, is quite a joy to watch. Matthew Modine (fans of cable channels will know him from TV’s Weeds) plays the tycoon who had it all, but lost everything – the emotions came through the characterisation effectively. The always reliable Marcia Gay Harden (The Mist, Into the Wild) plays the dead man’s sister who adds fuel to the drama.
With the reliable cast in place, local audiences may not be able to connect with the plot because of the context this story was set in. If one of Singapore’s richest man got into a scandal and the case was made into a movie, there would be better reception? Who do we have in mind? We are not naming names.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
There is nothing to complain about the movie’s visual transfer. It can be watched in English, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish or Thai languages.
by John Li
Posted on 20 December 2009