Ocean’s 11

This film has everything – an all-star cast, sharp dialogue and a talented filmmaking crew.  A remake of the 1960 movie of the same name starring the “Brat Pack”, Ocean’s 11 stars George Clooney as Danny Ocean, a recent inmate who plans an elaborate heist in “America’s Playground”, Las Vegas.

It can be hard for audiences to support a protagonist that breaks the law, so the film wisely stresses the unappealing antagonist, casino owner Terry Benedict, well played by Andy Garcia (Godfather III, The Untouchables). It’s also hard to dislike the charming Danny especially when you understand his intentions and his associates includes appealing characters played by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner, Bernie Mac and Elliot Gould, recent Oscar winner Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison and Shaobo Qin.

Pitt plays Rusty Ryan, Danny’s right-hand man and Damon play Linus Caldwell who is a somewhat naive yet highly talented pickpocket. Cheadle plays Basher Tarr who know his weapons and ammunition…as well as Rusty and Danny. Reiner plays Saul Bloom, a veteran con man and master impersonator.

Bernie Mac plays Frank Catton, another of Rusty and Danny’s close confidantes who is the “inside man” on this caper. Elliott Gould plays Reuben Tishkoff, a wealthy and influential casino mogul, who supplies most of this caper’s funding.

Affleck plays Virgil Malloy while Scott Caan plays his brother Turk. Virgil’s friendlier than Turk while their sibling feuds are always entertaining. Jemison plays tech expert Livingston Dell who is neurotic and usually anti-social while Qin impresses with his physical abilities to get into tight spaces (a.k.a. greaseman) as “The Amazing” acrobat Yen.

The protagonist characters put themselves in dangerous situations, but “without the fuss of mass destruction and death.” Julia Roberts plays the sole female lead character, Tess, with strong conviction and gets a memorable entrance that equals her huge star appeal.

It’s great to see director Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight, Traffic, Erin Brockovich) working with lighter subject matter, but he still shows off his Oscar® winning talents which include an elevator wipe, a mirror shot and slow motion shots on a subway train.

The low-key, jazz-filled musical score stays consistent with previous Soderbergh films, except near the end when it changes to a classical tone filled with strings and harps to compliment the actions of the characters, especially during a great exterior scene that serves as a “curtain call”.

The intelligent plot has excellent dialogue and several plausible twists with an open ended finish. A highly recommended (***1/2 out of four stars) and very entertaining film full of class and appealing stars. Rated PG-13 for language and sexual content.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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