Ocean's Eleven (2001)

Reviewed By Abhishek Bandekar
Posted 04/22/05 23:49:58

3 stars (Average)

'Ocean's Eleven', a film that was originally made in 1960 with: Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack; and without: success, took someone of a caliber and grit that only Steven Soderbergh possesses; to be remade. But this time around, the film turns out to be an interesting ride, thanks mainly to an amazingly cool and hip cast and an improved script. Using James Bond-like gadgetry and an unreal approach to the proceedings, the film makes for interesting and arrested viewing.

The story of 'Ocean's Eleven' revolves around Danny Ocean(George Clooney), a thief just out of prison and ready for his next heist: robbing three Las Vegas casinos in one night. As much impossible as this sounds, it is but obvious that he needs to assemble probably the world's best men on this project. Here begins the search for the best of the best. It is this phase of the movie and the subsequent preparation for the big night that is probably the most entertaining. This assimilation of various people, excellent at what they do, includes Rusty(Brad Pitt), Linus Caldwell(Matt Damon), Basher Tarr(Don Cheadle), Tishkoff(Elliot Gould), Frankie(Bernie Mac), the Malloy brothers(Scott Caan, Casey Affleck), a Chinese acrobat(Shaobo Qin), a computer wizard(Edward Jemison), and an old-timer Bloom(Carl Reiner). As each one of them prepares for their respective roles in this "biggest heist ever", Rusty begins to suspect Ocean's real motives: acquisition of the money or the retrieval of his lost love Tess(Julia Roberts), now with the owner of these three casinos; Terry Benedict(Andy Garcia). How the story moves from here till the ultimate robbery is brilliantly held together by a tight script and an awesome climax with a twist, if you may call it so!

The high point of this movie, apart from the studded star cast, is the performance put in by each actor. Everyone performs their role with effortless ease. Also, none of the cast appears to be affected by the presence of the other. This works wonderfully for the movie, as not only does the cast have a lot of fun but every single member of the audience feels comfortable. The other thing that works in this movie's favour is that it doesn't stick only to the heist but delves into other seemingly less-important but highly effective areas like the moments of interaction between Clooney and Roberts, with the latter trying to resist the charms of the former. The dialogues are void of profanity, which makes these characters innocent and hence, likable. Almost midway through the movie, you begin to view the "11" not as crooks but as your friends trying to make through an examination that you very much feel a part of yourself. At times, one does wonder at the ease at which these guys go through their work. But, then considering that most of the film proceeds like a fantasy, you might as well let it be a fable.

Steven Soderbergh clearly showcases his variety of talent by making a movie as commercial and racy as this, especially after movies like 'Erin Brockovich' and 'Traffic'. This is one person who has every right to swagger. He does let his trademark penchant for quirky visuals creep in, in those frequent flashes and the scene with the entire 'Eleven' at the end. Mr. Soderbergh, take a bow!

From the cast, it is Pitt who excels as he suavely walks through his portrayal of Rusty. George Clooney does his part with all earnest. This is one man who can make audiences(read "women") swoon just by giving a tilt to his head. Julia Roberts and Matt Damon are wasted in roles that were underwritten, but this doesn't stop them from bringing themselves to the notice of everyone. Andy Garcia does good enough to be liked in the role of the only unlikable character in the movie. The others perform their roles honestly, but the surprise package comes from Carl Reiner as the old and worn-out Bloom. His screen-presence makes you feel as warm as the cookies prepared by your Grandma. Just for this cast, that will almost definitely never be reassembled, this movie's worth a watch.

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