Ocean's Eleven (2001)

"Extraordinary"

Ocean's Eleven (2001) Review


In the words of George Peppard from his immortal role on TV's The A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together, and, man, does it ever come together in nearly every possible way in Steven Soderbergh's very clever, stylish, slick, and engrossing remake of the Rat Pack ensemble heist film Ocean's Eleven.

Since his feature debut with sex, lies and videotape, Soderbergh has walked the tenuous line between art and entertainment. He very rarely insults his audiences' intelligence or sense of humor or style -- even when he busted into the Hollywood big time. Now, a year after picking up his Oscar for the epic Traffic, he shows his range by dipping back into his old cheeky, seductive comedic bag of tricks last seen in Out of Sight. He even brings back Sight leading man George Clooney as crew boss Danny Ocean.

Ocean, just released from prison, immediately starts planning the biggest heist in Las Vegas history: Rob three casinos owned by Vegas magnate Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) -- who also happens to be dating Ocean's ex-wife Tess (Juila Roberts).

Ocean's right-hand man Dusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) starts putting the crew together, and Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) -- who's looking for revenge for Benedict closing down his casino -- finances the massive undertaking. The team is a band of misfits, all with something to offer: techie (Eddie Jemison), shadow (Matt Damon), munitions expert (Don Cheadle), inside man (Bernie Mac), mechanics (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan), seasoned veteran (Carl Reiner), and a Chinese gymnast (Shaobo Qin). You gotta have a Chinese gymnast.

Their only problem is the safe they're looking to crack is the impregnable Bellagio vault under the Las Vegas Strip. The take? Only $150 million. And, of course, once they get the cash, they have to get out. Easy enough.

But truly, it really is easy enough... or at least Soderbergh makes it seem that way. To start, the script is impeccably efficient to the point where you float along on its rapid fire dialogue like a raft over rapids. The structure of the heist is totally plausible, even down to its most technical high-tech details. And it never robs us of character development, a rare trait in most action/heist movies.

All that great writing isn't lost on this incredible cast. Clooney is very much his old charming self, delivering lines in his classic cool, smirky way. Pitt is mostly action, but handles his very essential bits of dialogue with aplomb. Gould is hilariously neurotic, and Garcia is coldly menacing. And, while I was worried about Julia Roberts, she's effectively sly, quiet, and very pretty in her role. Reiner is phenomenal in his relatively minor part. And, even Bernie Mac manages to level us with some hilarious monologues.

And pulling all the strings is -- you guessed it -- Soderbergh. Honestly, Ocean's Eleven is not his finest film. It's certainly more popcorn than masterpiece, but it's so beautifully watchable and enjoyable that you'll happily inhale its jazzy, madcap ether. And, perhaps, be glad that you're not watching the Rat Pack version.

For the most part, this Ocean's Eleven is barely a remake of the 1960 film starring Frank Sinatra and his Las Vegas pals. The original had the eleven robbing five casinos; this one, the guys rob three. Otherwise, the only similarity is that this redo maintains that incredible old school class -- meaning no cursing, sex, nudity, or gore. And, yes, it's still fantastic. Imagine that -- a Hollywood remake actually better than the original.

The DVD highlights include two commentary tracks (one from Damon, Garcia, and Pitt), another from Soderbergh and writer Ted Griffin -- but the film itself is so much fun it's impossible to listen to these guys go on and on. You keep turning back to the movie for the action and the clever dialogue. And eventually you just leave it there. Highly recommended.

Is he in or is he out?



Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Producer:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

With virtually the same blend of wit and idiocy as the 2001 original, this fashion-scene...

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) reteams with Tilda Swinton for this fresh, tricky...

Deadpool Movie Review

Deadpool Movie Review

Both the filmmakers and the characters on-screen are so pleased with themselves that this might...

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

Advertisement
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.