Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Bernie Mac, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Elliot Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Andy Garcia
There are only a few movie-going events in my childhood which stand out far above the others. We have animated classics ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’, and then in my teenage years there was ‘Ocean’s Eleven’. I had high hopes going into the theatre to see this movie for the first time back in 2001. The trailers and television spots showed this stellar ensemble cast, in a humorous, but clever heist movie. Seeing all these big name actors in one movie was certainly impressive and intriguing; I wondered how well so many big actors would work together. Thankfully, the movie surpassed my expectations. In fact, to this date there are only five movies that I’ve seen five times (or more) in theatres, and ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ happened to be the first.
The film is ultimately about an elaborate heist. Danny Ocean (George Clooney), a high-end thief, collector, and treasure-seeker gets released early from prison for good behaviour. Before being released though, he learns that his wife (Julia Roberts) has left him for another man. That man happens to be Terry Benedict, the owner of several exceptional hotels and casinos on the Las Vegas strip. Now, Ocean plans to get his old gang back together for one final heist to set themselves up for life. All the while, he is attempting to regain the love of his ex-wife and steal a significant portion of Benedict’s wealth in the process.
I love pretty much everything about this film. The acting is wonderful, by everyone involved, delivering subtle humour and unique personalities. With George Clooney at the heart of it all, the surrounding cast offer an excellent back and forth, bouncing off Clooney superbly. Sometimes when you have a movie with too many stars, they can clash and it ruins the film. Thankfully, for the most part in ‘Ocean’s Eleven’, the actors work together for the common cause of creating a great movie. The film is entertaining from start to finish with very little filler; despite a large cast, everyone has a role to play. The musical accompaniment, the story and the all important heist, are just more areas where I can’t help but heap praise.
If you are forcing me to pick holes in this film, then George Clooney is acting a lot like George Clooney. Danny Ocean is charismatic and clever, much like I imagine Clooney is in person. If you want, you can take some points off for lack of originality; the original starred the fabled Rat Pack with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Angie Dickinson. Personally, I actually find this remake to be the far superior film. That is rarely the case, but there’s a first time for everything I guess. The only other issue is that with a cast this big, it can be hard to give the characters sufficient depth. We get a glimpse of their personality and that is executed well enough, but the movie will not allow much deeper thought on its characters.
In the end, ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ proved to be just as funny, clever, and exciting as I hoped. It features a great ensemble cast which performs wonderfully together. With its dry humour, running jokes and attention to detail, it is one of those films where you could find something new every time you watch. This is one of my favourite movies of those created in the last couple of decades and actually, ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ may very well be among the finest heist films ever created and certainly the finest remake of one that I can think of.