George Clooney and Brad Pitt in Ocean's Eleven.
The original Ocean's 11 was an un-memorable film with a memorable cast. The new Ocean's Eleven (the new version spells out the number), is slightly more memorable, and also features a memorable cast.
George Clooney has the Sinatra role, that of Danny Ocean, the mastermind behind a scheme to rob multiple Casino's at the same time. He gathers a motley crew to assist, each with their specific skill to help him in the endeavor. Brad Pitt, in the Dean Martin role, plays his second-in-command. Don Cheadle, reprising Sammy Davis Jr.'s performance, plays the explosive's expert. In lesser roles, you have the acrobat, the drivers, the surveillance expert, and so on.
Behind the obvious goal of stealing $160 million, Ocean also has a personal reason for this robbery. The man who owns all three of the casinos he intends on robbing (Andy Garcia), is now dating Ocean's ex-wife, played by Julia Roberts in what is really a large cameo appearance.
The robbery plot is complex and quite unbelievable, hinging on people doing and acting in certain ways that the robbers would really have no way of guaranteeing. But it is filmed in such an enjoyable and stylish way, that you really don't think about it while you're watching.
And in the end, may be this movie and the original have a great deal in common. They're both about style over substance. Clooney and Pitt are both good looking, sharp dressers, who get to act suave, confident, and smooth all at once. To their credit, they carry it out superbly. The pace is fast and constantly moving. The first hour flies by as they gather the eleven together, and is easily the most enjoyable part of the movie.
Elliott Gould has a scene stealing scene in the beginning as the gold chain wearing, enormous sun-glassed, money man behind the operation, who also bears Andy Garcia's character a grudge. Gould and the other smaller parts create some of the funnier parts of the movie, since the leads are sometimes strait-jacketed by having to remain cool at all times.
As smooth as a martini or a Sinatra Love Song, Ocean's Eleven is a fast paced, enjoyable flick, stylishly filmed, filled with great, or at least well-known actors, that doesn't disappoint, but doesn't make a lasting impression either.
Matt Damon and George Clooney in Ocean's Eleven.
In Scott's review he wrote ''style over substance'' in describing this as well as the original Ocean's 11. I could not agree more. The entire set up of this movie is to make everything and everyone look cool.
Much like The Sting we have a film that has a plot simply based on a bunch of people pulling something off. Both have large famous casts. The big difference between the two movies is that I was always told that The Sting was a good movie. It put me to sleep. On the other hand, no one has told me that Ocean's Eleven is a great movie. I did however stay awake through it all.
I am by no means a great fan of George Clooney. However, he is either growing on me or he just fits this role. Either way I think he does a great job here as the leader of the robbers. That or he just looks cool.
In fact, that is the entire point of this movie. To make these people look cool. There is no character development. There are plot holes and coincidences bigger that Julia Roberts smile. Which we rarely get to see in this movie. If Danny Ocean is smart enough to pull off this unbelievably elaborate heist, then how did he ever end up in prison in the first place. Why is Tess living with a man with whom never she gives a sincere smile to. If the explosives expert is that good then why is he not making 6 figures a year for some defense manufacturer. The answer to the last question is easy. Its much cooler to be a thief.
Brad Pitt does little more than breeze through this movie. ''Look this way Brad. Say your line, and remember to look cool.'' Yes he is well dressed and full of confidence through out this movie. His charm comes through. However, his only motive for risking a life in prison is that he's bored playing poker with movie stars. Yeah, the plot is that thin.
When you look at the movies Frank Sinatra and the rest of the "Rat Pack" made together, you get the feeling it was just about some friends getting together. Plots and dialogue were not important. It was just about the making of the movie, not the final product. An excuse for some buddies to have some fun together. Hey, if your going to work why not do it with friends?
This new version seems like it was thrown together much the same way. A bunch of underused movie stars walking through roles that requires more posing than acting. How much gambling do you think these actors got in while filming? I am sure it was all done in the name of character research. Oh, wait a minute, there are no characters in this movie. Only models with lines. I bet they had more fun making this movie than I did watching it.
Elliott Gould in Ocean's Eleven.
I was entertained by the style and pacing of this thoroughly enjoyable remake. Scott hit upon the right word when he said this movie was 'smooth'. Smooth it definitely is, as both a verb and an adjective. The story moves along at a good clip, the characters are stylishly memorable, the dialogue and situations clever, and the cast gorgeous. Oh and did I mention it was smooth?
Eric is looking too deeply into the fabric here. Who cares why Danny Ocean went to prison? Who cares that Tess doesn't smile at her man? This is one of those big budget heist capers where you just sit back and enjoy the ride. Brad Pitt and George Clooney have that old-fashioned movie star charisma that leaps off the screen. The rest of the cast provides support for these two dazzlingly charming stars. I agree with Scott that Elliott Gould steals a few scenes. And while I know my brothers are not big fans of Matt Damon here he has found a role that perfectly suits his personality. He does some of his best work as a slightly introverted and rather nervous young criminal attempting his first job in the big leagues. He is especially good in the scene where he convinces Andy Garcia's character that he is from the Nevada Gaming Commission.
The plot surprises with a few unexpected twists and although the heist is not completely plausible it seems incredibly factual in comparison to, say, any of the Mission Impossible movies.
So long as you are willing to hop on board, Ocean's Eleven provides a slick piece of cinematic entertainment, with a large and talented cast. Carl Reiner even has a few good moments as the old guy (there is always an old guy).
As Eric mentioned Ocean's Eleven is similar in spirit to The Sting, which, contrary to what he writes, is a great movie. Ocean's Eleven is not in the same league, but it is not too far off the mark at that.
Photos © Copyright Warner Brothers (2001)