Danny Ocean is released from prison and immediately begins to set up his next great scheme. He wants to rob the three biggest casinos in Las Vegas and he enlists the aid of 10 other criminal experts to help. In doing so he hopes to walk away with $150 million in cash while winning over his ex-wife Tess who just so happens to be dating the owner of one of the big three.
Ocean’s Eleven is a long way from perfect, but that is not to say it is not a memorable experience. Combining Vegas with the Rat Pack means they could have made almost anything and it would likely have left an impression. In making this version, Soderbergh demonstrates he understands why the original film worked while applying the standards and polish of the new millennium. It is no wonder that such a prestigious cast was hired: who else would be able to handle even making such a film?
The good news is that this new entry does not require the audience to have watched the original film. There are a few in-jokes here and there, but these are subtle enough to not feel out of place and will probably pass by entirely unnoticed for most viewers. The story ticks along nicely and it is all very effortless while still managing to remain a couple of steps ahead of all but the most astute viewers.
George Clooney may be the headline actor, but there is plenty of scope for everyone else to demonstrate their skill and nobody comes up short. It takes a special director to make their stars shine this way. Julia Roberts shows she can make something meaningful out of the simple act of striding across a casino floor, giving truth to the old cliché about pictures painting thousands of words. Meanwhile, Matt Damon gets to act as the new-kid despite being the same age as Casey Affleck and Scott Caan who get to play the whole thing for laughs.
Meanwhile, Don Cheadle attempts a cockney accent that is more reminiscent of Dick Van Dyke, but somehow it does not seem terrible and it could even be said he pulls it off. However, we have to give special attention to Brad Pitt. He seems to spend a lot of his time either lingering in the background or eating and yet he manages to pass off a kind of quiet strength showing that he’s there for more than just his good looks.
This film manages to feel suitable for everyone without losing anything important or unique along the way. It may seem a little on the shallow side from time to time, but that is beside the point. The point is to have fun. The point is that the good guys are the good guys because they are criminals who are giving even worse criminals a hell of a time. Yes they may have just been released from jail in the beginning, but we are more than happy to forgive. This is a movie about fulfilling a fantasy, and it does an excellent job.