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Stylish, smart and cool - just don't think about it too hard
on January 22, 2003
"Ocean's Eleven" is a Ferrari of a movie: cool, stylish, and classy. And if, like a Ferrari, it doesn't always work, that's OK - who will complain when it's so stylish?
The premise is lifted right out of the 1960 Rat Pack original: Danny Ocean (George Clooney, suave as hell) is released from prison, and plots to steal over $163 million from the vault of a Las Vegas casino during a heavyweight fight. He recruits his old buddy Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), and they put together a dream team of crooks, each of whom has a specialty. There's a computer geek, a demolition expert, a con man, a pickpocket, and so on.
And, of course, there's Danny's ex-wife, Tess (Julia Roberts), who's now involved with the manager (Andy Garcia) of the casino Danny intends to rob. So, Danny's not only after money - he wants his girl back as well. But she's having nothing of it, as evidenced by this neat dialogue piece:
Danny: "I've paid my debt to society."
Tess: "Funny, I haven't gotten my check yet."
Dialogue like that is one of the great pleasures of this movie; watching it delivered by the likes of Clooney, Roberts, Pitt and the stellar supporting cast (Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, et al) is the other.
And, in fairness, it's a good thing that the dialogue and acting is so good, because as a pure caper flick, "Ocean's Eleven" is, to be charitable, a little thin. In the best caper movies ("The Heist" comes to mind), the theft itself is the star of the movie - the intracicies, the backup plans, the intrigue. In "Ocean's Eleven," we're expected to believe that a casino with over $150 million in its vault wouldn't have a backup power generator, or that the vault's security system wouldn't have a motion sensor.
But criticisms like that are akin to nitpicking that red Ferrari 575 because it has a small trunk - the point isn't realism, it's style, and like a Ferrari, "Ocean's Eleven" has it in droves.