The chic, if somewhat shallow, remake of the Rat Pack's kitschy caper classic in which ex-con Danny Ocean assembles an all-star 11-man crew to perform the impossible: rob not one, but three Las Vegas casinos and get away with it.
Loosely based on the (rather lame) 1960 Rat Pack film, dashing, understated-but-cool thief Danny Ocean (George Clooney) orchestrates the most sophisticated, elaborate casino heist in history, less than 24 hours after being released from jail. In one night, Danny's handpicked 11-man crew of specialists--including an ace card sharp (Brad Pitt), a young-but-masterful pickpocket (Matt Damon) and a demolition genius (Don Cheadle)--will attempt to steal over $150 million from three Las Vegas casinos owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the elegant, ruthless entrepreneur who just happens to be dating Danny's ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). To score the cash, Danny will have to risk his life and risk his chance of ever reconciling with Tess. But if all goes according to his intricate, nearly impossible plan, Danny won't have to choose between his stake in the heist and his high-stakes reunion with Tess. Or will he?
The star wattage in this movie could solve all of California's electricity problems in one fell swoop. George Clooney easily passes himself off as suave mastermind Danny Ocean, playing the role with understated class and elegance. Brad Pitt takes a similar arc as Rusty, though he's slightly more dispassionate and professional than Clooney's visionary Ocean. Matt Damon is convincing as the inexperienced-but-talented pickpocket who's essential to getting in the vault. And Julia is simply Julia--glamorous and charming, a smart cookie who is being wooed by the evil, ruthless (and anal-retentive) casino mogul so elegantly portrayed by Andy Garcia. Affecting a Cockney accent and attitude, Don Cheadle's portrayal of the demolition expert is a tour de force. Carl Reiner is absolutely hilarious as Saul Bloom, an aging old-timer who comes out of retirement to infiltrate the casino as a debonair arms dealer. Elliott Gould, Bernie Mac, Scott Caan and Casey Affleck round out the cast nicely with inspired performances, especially Gould's and Mac's.
Soderbergh cemented his reputation last year as a director of serious weight when both Traffic and Erin Brockovich were nominated for the Best Film Academy Award and garnered him two Best Director nominations---an unprecedented feat. Ocean's Eleven marks Soderbergh's departure from the serious to the seriously fun. This is one of the most stylish, most elegantly filmed movies I have ever seen. Not only are all the actors beautiful, but so are the locations, clothes and shot selections. The speed and pacing of the flick belie the movie's length; Soderbergh clearly had fun making this movie. He shot this film very intimately, often allowing the camera to stay close on the actors a tad longer than expected, which lets their personas shine through--thus their personalities draw you into the movie as much as the caper itself. It's not often you see a movie where the direction has as much wit and cleverness as the plot itself. Ocean's Eleven makes no pretense to be something other than a jaunty, cheeky, exhilarating heist movie. So while the plot's not too deep, all is forgiven considering the level of acting and direction.
Like the original, Ocean's Eleven is a lark, but unlike the 1960 version, it's no throwaway; with Steven Soderbergh directing, the film is stylish and smart, even if it lacks a little soul.