movie film review | chris tookey

Oceanís 11 / Oceanís Eleven

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  Oceanís 11 / Oceanís Eleven Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
7.23 /10
Danny Ocean: George Clooney, Rusty Ryan: Brad Pitt, Terry Benedict: Andy Garcia
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Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Ted Griffin

Released: 2001
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 116

George Clooney (pictured right with Brad Pitt) is cocky but charming as Danny Ocean, the crook who wants to mastermind a heist that will seriously upset the smooth casino proprietor (Andy Garcia) who has stolen his wife (Julia Roberts).
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Ocean's Eleven remakes the least bad of those slapdash movies that Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack threw together in the early Sixties. It's also a throwback to those celebrity-packed Cannonball Run pictures in which Burt Reynolds and his chums amused themselves in the Seventies.

I've never fully understood their appeal - maybe audiences attending them felt they were obtaining a kind of celebrity status, or at least coolness, by association. At any rate, the pictures haven't worn well. Today, they exude not so much star glamour as the stale stench of celebrity self-satisfaction.

The new Ocean's Eleven is an advance on the old one, mainly because it is smoothly directed by Steven Soderbergh and has a competent script by Ted Griffin, who wrote the excellent thriller Best Laid Plans, which starred the up-and-coming Reese Witherspoon and Alessandro Nivola, and failed at the box office, ironically, because it had no stars in it.

That's not a problem with this movie, and some present-day superstars go through their familiar paces with aplomb. Julia Roberts is likeably spiky and neurotic in her moments with Clooney, which have overtones of the love-hate screen relationship of Tracy and Hepburn. Their exchanges are the best in the movie, but there aren't many of them.

That usually daring actor, Brad Pitt, barely breaks sweat as Clooney's second-in-command. Matt Damon utterly fails to establish a personality as the team's pickpocket.

The most embarrassing scenes feature Don Cheadle as an explosives expert, seemingly bent on emulating Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins with his excruciating "Cockney" accent.

Better are Elliott Gould and Carl Reiner as the veteran members of the team. The heist itself is glossily photographed and sufficiently entertaining for you not to worry too much that it relies heavily on absolutely nothing in Clooney's plot going wrong. And Clooney drops out of the heist at one point, then drops back in again without his second-in-command even finding his behaviour worthy of comment.

As in most movies dedicated to the glorification of criminality, there is no questioning of the leading characters' ethics. We are simply meant to admire the coolness and professionalism with which they commit their robbery. I did - and appreciated their non-violence. But I also felt that all that talent and expertise might have been spent a great deal more usefully. Which is pretty much how I feel about the film.

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