Ocean’s Eleven

Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Casey Affleck, Frankie J Allison

Director: Steven Soderbergh

When we first meet dapper Danny Ocean (George Clooney) he is telling the parole board at a New Jersey penitentiary that his days as a con are over. However, underneath the cool exterior Danny is hatching a plan that will surpass all heists that have gone before. He has two targets in mind. The one place that real old style cash is in abundance and not just plastic (Las Vegas) and of course, the man that stole his girl, casino magnate Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia).

Danny lives by three rules: don’t hurt anybody, don’t steal from anyone who doesn’t deserve it and most importantly of all, play the game like you’ve got nothing to lose. Danny hatches a plan to steal $150 million from Benedict’s casinos on the night of a big fight. To do this Ocean handpicks a crew of specialists including an ace card sharp (Brad Pitt) a master pickpocket (Matt Damon) a demolition genius (Don Cheadle) an acrobat (Shaobo Qin) and unbeknown to her, his ex wife Tess (Julia Roberts). Will his plan work, or will the stakes be too high? That’s what we find out over the next couple of hours in this expertly handled caper tale.

The whole premise, the story, characters and the rules by which they live are very old fashioned, but director Soderbergh takes an old style concept (like he did with OUT OF SIGHT) and updates it with a pizzazz that never dilutes the original premise. The casting of today’s hot shots obviously mirrors the original with the hot shots of its day (The rat pack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis etc) but it never really competes with the original version. Time, and the way money is handled has changed to dramatically to have the same scenario. What we enjoyably sit through is a remoulding rather than a remake. The entire cast is excellent (Clooney the new Clarke Gable?) and everyone plays their part. The director Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould are especially good. In such a flawlessly styled movie however, things that aren’t so good really stand out.

The first and foremost is the ridiculous supposedly cockney accent that Don Cheadle spouts throughout the film. For years the worst accent of all time in the movies went to Dick Van Dyke (or Penis Van Lesbian as Cary Grant affectionately called him) for his cockerneee in Mary Poppins. I don’t want to break any hearts but I’m afraid Dick’s accent pails in comparison next to Cheadles. It’s fantastically bad. The other con that stands out is that Julia Roberts, fine actress she might be, is the most unsophisticated ‘walker’ in the movies. You expect her to glide across the gambling floor, as she is the object of everyone’s affections. Instead she dresses like a princess and strides like a farmers daughter across a muddy field, angry with someone who left a gate open. Harsh? No. You’ll see what I mean. I’ve already mentioned OUT OF SIGHT but the scenes with Roberts and Clooney in this are electric and nearly match that in the chemistry stakes once Julia gets into her stride (ok enough already – at least I didn’t ‘crack’ the joke about ‘hatching’ a plan in an eggs-Benedict scenario!)

If you want to see a movie that Hollywood ‘just doesn’t make anymore’ then go and see this. The way the heist evolves falls into place like a gambler placing an ace on a picture card in charmin de fer (pontoon).

A glossy and highly entertaining ‘caper’ film – are you in or out?

5 out of 6 stars

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