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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

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.