Ocean’s 11 Movie Review: Contains Spoilers

don’t read this if you haven’t seen it yet

“Are you in or out? Right now” asks Danny Ocean in Steven Soderbergh’s remake of the Rat Pack classic (or classically bad) Ocean’s Eleven. This version however, exceeded my expectations in nearly every department. Soderbergh, who brought us such academy award contenders as Traffic and Erin Brockovich and mediocre hits like Out of Sight and Sex, Lies, and Videotape, doesn’t kid around when assembling an all-star cast for his latest flick. Usually when you get an all-star cast you can expect the acting to be good but the movie to be fluff. Thankfully this one isn’t fluff. Everybody and their brother is in this flick. George Clooney the “carasmatic mastermind”, Matt Damon the amature yet skilled pick-pocket, Andy Garcia, the authoritative casino owner, Brad Pitt, the slick card shark, and Julia Roberts, the cannon fodder for the rivalry between Clooney and Garcia. The list goes on and on with a great supporting cast. Scott Cann, Elliot Gould, Casey “I’m not Ben” Affleck and Bernie Mac. With all that star power assembled you could guess that the acting was top notch, and it was. If you’re not a George Clooney fan you may get annoyed with his constant quips and snappy yet subtle come backs. That’s easily overlooked once you get to the stylish “Fight Club-ish” acting of Brad Pitt. He’s in rare for and is very enjoyable to root for as one of our favorite bad guys, sorta. Oh, didn’t I tell you. Everyone in the movie is a thief, so we’re rooting for the bad guys on this one. Andy Garcia’s character Harry Benedict is technically just a casino owner who’s getting robbed, but Garcia does such a great job convincing us that he’s complete slime that we forget he’s losing millions of dollars.

As for the story, not much is left of the original screenplay. The idea of the original was good, hence the remake, but thankfully they kept very little. The dialog is clean and quick and very well delivered. You feel like it’s a natural conversation that you’re hearing and not some cheesy line dreamed up in a Hollywood back room. Then again, it could just be the acting doing that. Anyway, the story is solid, with a few exceptions that I won’t get into since they’re so minor it would just be nit picking. The cinematography is a welcome change to the crap I saw last week. If you’ve seen Traffic then you know that Steven Soderbergh loves to use color. In Traffic it was used to assist the story and mood, in Ocean’s Eleven, it’s used simply because it looks badass. Seriously, lighting helps make the movie and can establish a feeling of “mood” and this is a perfect example of what to do. Unless you’re looking for it, you won’t consciously notice it until you go back and think about it. You’d have to see it a second time to fully understand why each color is used where it’s used. It’s very unconscious and very well done.

The one thing that did bother me is minor but I feel the need to mention it. This is a gang of thieves right? They’re being “bank-rolled” (i.e.: financed) by another thief/con artist. Unless this guy has billions secretly stashed somewhere, there’s no way they could have gotten what they did. Now, this is a spoiler, so just skip ahead if you haven’t seen it… but the entire idea of building a replica of the vault is simply nuts. That and the highly crafted, precision-machined explosives would be well out of their price range. The “hockey puck” gas grenade used in the beginning of the vault scene would have cost them a shit load of money and time. Somehow they put those together in two week? The last thing was the “pinch” used to knock out the power. Now, I’m not even going to get into the physics on this one, but lets just say that I doubt a billion dollar machine would be at a relatively unguarded science facility AND that it would glow neon green/yellow. That’s stretching my “willing suspension of disbelief” a little far.

I have read a few other reviews prior to writing this one and they are very mixed. One praises the acting and the directing while the other bashes it for it’s lack of originality. That reviewer didn’t like that it was a “heist and/or robery” film because they’ve been done. Well, yes, they have been done, and most of them done badly. While Ocean’s Eleven certainly isn’t original in it’s concept, it does it well and it’s entertaining, which in my opinion, is really all that counts. With the piles of absolute crap that they’re calling movies these days, it’s rare that a well done movie comes a long. I’ve also heard it mentioned that these are simply “stock characters” written just for those certain actors, mostly Clooney and Pitt. I can see the point thats trying to be made, but let’s face it, Clooney and Pitt are GOOD at the characters they get. Especially Pitt, who’s nearly perfected the “badass with style” routine when it comes to his acting.

Besides those slightly minor details, I urge you to kick back and go see the first decent movie of the winter. You won’t be disappointed. The acting is good, the director does a great job, the story is solid and it’s simply “fun” to watch. I enjoyed myself. The IMDB classifies this one under “Action / Comedy / Crime” which I suppose is the easiest way to do it since it doesn’t really fall into one of the categories on it’s one. Oh well. Great flick. 4.5 out of 5.

This movie has plenty of wang!