Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ocean's Eleven

Ocean's Eleven; crime comedy, USA, 2001; D: Steven Soderbergh, S: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Bernie Mac

Danny Ocean leaves the prison after a conversation with the commission, but already has a new plan for a heist: to rob the rich Benedict, owner of three casinos in Las Vegas, the new husband of his ex-wife Tess. Ocean thus recruits ten friends, including Linus, Rusty, Reuben and Basher. Following their plan, they shut down electricity in the whole city for a minute in order for Ocean and Linus to pass by the lasers. They inform Benedict that they planted a bomb in the vault and will destroy all his money if he doesn't give them half of the sum. After the money is transferred to the van, it is intercepted, but it turns out that it is empty, and that Ocean's team, disguised as SWAT team, snatched Benedict's money in the meantime. Tess returns back to Ocean.

Steven Soderbergh made a remake that is better than the original from the 60s: his "Ocean's 11" succeeds thanks to elegant directing, a refined heist story, charm, wit and fine actors. Soderbergh managed to rally half of Hollywood of play even the smallest parts, and even though not every role is given enough time to shine, they all contribute to a well thought out plan. Julia Roberts got a one-dimensional role as Tess, but some of her dialogues with Clooney's character Ocean are truly crisp and original ("I always mix up Monet and Manet. One married his mistress, and the other had syphilis." - "They also occasionally painted, you know"; "Tess, I'm not joking." - "Danny, I'm not laughing."). The movie has more than enough comical ideas that carry the story before the actual heist - one of the the best is the anecdote about how the most successful robbery of the casino involved a robber who managed to get just ten yards away from the building with the stolen money - and the second half of the film, when the robbery finally sets in, is more-or-less plausible and works. Maybe it is a gimmick that works only on the first viewing, but that's all the movie needs, anyway. "Ocean's 11" is a light fun without any pretentious grasp towards more ambitious themes, yet is directed with a lot of style that gives it energy, and is simply a fun story with a sly romantic subtext at the end.


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