Ocean's Eleven (2001) / Comedy-Thriller

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for some language and sexual content
Running Time: 116 min.

Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Screenplay: Ted Griffin (based on the 1960 movie of the same name)

Review published December 8, 2001

The amazing Steven Soderbergh is at it again, showing a mastery of a new genre with almost every film he's made.  After the Academy Award nominated films Erin Brockovich and Traffic, Soderbergh goes for a fun and fluffy crime caper, a tasty souffle remake of the Brat Pack's Ocean's Eleven.  Like the old film, this sports an all-star cast and irreverent performance.  Unlike the old film, this one has a master director at the helm, which results in the much better film of the two. 

This one won't get Soderbergh the accolades he enjoyed from the year 2000, but that doesn't mean he doesn't put as much effort into this one.  Ocean's Eleven may be light, but it's another masterwork by a brilliant director, and it's easy to overlook just how well-crafted it is when you're having so much fun watching.

George Clooney (The Perfect Storm, O Brother Where Art Thou?) plays Danny Ocean, a recently released big-time thief, who has big aspirations of knocking over the owner of three big Las Vegas casinos, Terry Benedict (Garcia, Night Falls on Manhattan).  Terry is not only a major a-hole with plenty of enemies, but also happens to be sporting Ocean's former wife (Roberts, America's Sweethearts) on his arm, which makes him an illustrious target in Danny's eyes.  Danny pulls together a gang of ten other players, each with their own skills which are needed to bust in the high-security vault which hold the millions taken in by the casinos. 

Soderbergh squeezes more juice than one could have thought could be had from the material, and the actors provide oodles of chemistry and amiable performances which make Ocean's Eleven one of the hippest and most fun films of 2001.  With grainy film stock, a hip funk-jazz score, well-choreographed camera movements and segues, plus good use of Las Vegas scenic locales, it's a treat for the mind as well as the funny bone.  Don't be off-put by the fact it's slighter than other Soderbergh productions.  It may not be as meaty, but this meal is just as satisfying.

-- Followed by Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen.

Qwipster's rating:

2001 Vince Leo