Film Review: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Ocean’s Eleven is definitely a five-star and an outstanding movie. For the first time Las Vegas on screen prepared it an occasion picture. Soderbergh’s film is just as much of an occasion and more significantly, it has taken the soul of what was good about the film and given it a new millennium polish, with a cast who don’t clasp under the burden of expectation.

A heist movie with a serious behavior but comic underpinnings, Ocean’s Eleven performs it’s an impressive robbery through a group of star turns by the likes of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia. It’s a movie that demands not to be taken too critically. But at times it feels so light that the conspiracy comes more in seeing how the writer and director will twist out of plot predicaments than how a team of thieves will rip off Las Vegas casinos.

This is an entertainment of the effortless order. Soderbergh’s pacing leaves scant room for fidgeting, and the story spills out frame so that plots can twist just seconds faster than you can cotton on.

Clooney’s kind staring act gives plenty of scope to showcase the rest of the talent and no-one here is missing. Few directors have made their stars appear as high-wattage. Garcia is just bad enough to want to wipe out and Roberts’s indefinable enough to be the natural object of affection. Watch for the scene where she crosses the casino floor switching her loyalty from one man to another that’s a crystal-clear movie star scene. Damon relishes his role out of the attention as the new kid on the block, while his team-mates, Casey Affleck and Scott Caan, go for laughs.

Don Cheadle does a Londoner accent to competitor Dick Van Dyke, but by some means gets away with it and Carl Reiner and Elliott Gould do a few grade A scene-stealing without disturbing the movie. Yet, special mention has to go to charming Brad Pitt. Waiting in the background, generally snacking, he delivers a quiet performance that recommends the unseen power beyond his pretty boy looks. This is one movie where wearing a suit well does him no damage at all.

But if your tastes are of a less superficial nature, there’s Soderbergh’s trademark cutting technique to snag the movie up a mark, stunt work that can’t be faked and a heist that deserves the climax.

This is a movie that shows business to all demographics not including any sense like a by-numbers production. To criticize it for being superficial is to miss the point. The movie is a technical sensation, with Philip Messina’s sets and real casino locations binding flawlessly together. This isn’t the grimy Las Vegas, where the house always wins. It’s a film that’s as well-designed and stunning shiny as the monoliths that now dominate The Strip. The good guys are crooks? So what! If only all crooks were this good. This is a movie that plays to fantasies and few do it with such fun.

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