Ocean's 11 (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/02/2002

Four out of five stars
Running time: 117 mins

Stylish remake of an iconic-if-not-very-good original film, with a to-die-for cast, a great soundtrack and healthy measure of ‘cool’ – it drags in places but is fun to watch.

Steven Soderbergh deservedly won the Best Director Oscar last year for Traffic. However, rather than sit on his laurels waiting for his next prestige picture (unlike, say, a certain Mr Cameron), for his follow-up film Soderbergh has instead decided to round up several of his mates and re-make an iconic if-not-actually-all-that-good film from 1960 – Ocean’s 11, the original of which was the first Rat Pack movie and starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr etc.

In Soderbergh’s update, the plot is tightened up but remains essentially the same. Lifelong criminal Danny Ocean (George Clooney in the Sinatra part) gets out of prison and immediately seeks out his partner in crime Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) with a scheme for the ever-elusive ‘one last score’ - knocking off three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.

In doing so, Danny is also hoping to win back his ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts), who is currently shacked up with the owner of the afore-mentioned casinos, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia, whose absence from cinema screens has done him no harm at all).

Not wanting to waste any time, Danny and Rusty set about putting together the perfect team (the ‘eleven’ of the title) for the heist, including pickpocket Matt Damon, explosives expert ‘Basher’ (Don Cheadle, sporting a frankly ridiculous and entirely unnecessary cockney accent), Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, Bernie Mac (who was in The Original Kings of Comedy ), real-life acrobat Shaobo Qin, Scott Caan and Casey ‘brother of Ben’ Affleck.

In fact, it seems to take forever to set up the heist and the film drags a little in the early scenes, but once the heist begins then the fun really starts, with twists coming thick and fast.

The acting is superb. The interplay between Clooney and Pitt (both clearly enjoying themselves) will have you grinning despite yourself. Caan and Affleck (playing brothers) have an equally amusing rapport and Elliot Gould makes the most of his great lines (such as "I owe you for the thing with the guy in the place") and ends up stealing every scene he’s in.

Andy Garcia is also excellent – in fact the only real let-downs are Julia Roberts, who is given too little to do and looks, frankly, awful throughout the film (whose idea was it to keep her hair up?) and Don Cheadle’s accent which threatens to derail the film anytime he has a line over three words long.

On the plus side, the film looks and sounds fantastic – the photography is gorgeous and there’s a nicely eclectic score by regular Soderbergh collaborator David Holmes.

There are also lots of nice throwaway gags. Highlights include Rusty’s day job of 'teaching teen-heart-throb actors to play poker', with Joshua Jackson, Topher Grace and the annoying 'British' one from Get Over It all playing themselves.

There are also a good couple of cast-based gags, such as when they all come out of the poker place and the crowd are screaming for Joshua Jackson and Topher Grace, yet Clooney and Pitt are ignored. In the same vein, later on, Pitt suddenly speaks Chinese and no-one double-takes – though this is bound to get a laugh from the audience.

In short, Soderbergh has chosen wisely in his choice of films to remake, because the original was so dull that no-one in their right mind will say that it was better. Ocean’s Eleven isn’t a great film, by any means, but it does have the ‘must-see’ cast factor going for it and is never less than watchable – chances are you’ll be grinning by the end. Recommended.

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Content updated: 18/10/2017 06:49

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