Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Movie #492: Ocean's Eleven

Ocean's Eleven is a heist/comedy directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Elliot Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Carl Reiner, and Shaobo Qin. It's a remake of a Rat Pack movie, but that's not important right now.

Danny Ocean (Clooney) is released from prison and immediately hooks up with his buddy Rusty (Pitt) to plan a robbery of not one, not two, but three Las Vegas casinos, all owned by the sinister Terry Benedict (Garcia). This is, as it's later revealed, not just because doing so will net them $160 million, and not just because Benedict is a fucker, but also because he's dating Ocean's ex-wife, Tess (Roberts).

Ocean and Ryan assemble a team of (in total) 11 grifters, thieves, and specialists, and pull off a complicated con that leaves them rich and almost off the hook from suspicion (Ocean is still being followed at the end of the movie, so obviously Benedict has some idea he was involved).

That sounds like a very terse summary of the movie, but going into more detail runs the risk of going through the con piece by piece, and that's no fun. Instead, let's talk about the real strengths of the movie.

The relationships are amazing. Clooney and Pitt have amazing chemistry together, and their relationship is obvious from their first shared scene. Likewise, while Ocean is somewhat aloof with most of the others, Ryan is affable and friendly with everyone - he acts as mentor to young Linus (Damon) and is obviously a former compatriot of Basher (Cheadle, doing a cockney accent for some reason). Likewise, the way that the young(er) folks defer to Reuben (Gould) and Saul (Reiner), both of whom are obviously respectable, and, perhaps, dangerous people, is fun and subtle.

If I have a complaint, it's that a couple of the 11 don't really get much backstory. I mean, none of them other than Danny really get much, but we learn a little bit about Linus and Saul and Reuben, but almost nothing about Livingston (Jemison) or Yen (Qin), and it would have been nice to find out how Yen, in particular, got into this business (also, what's the deal with him? He clearly understands English, and Ryan understands Chinese [I don't know if Yen speaks Mandarin or Cantonese]...it's just a weird exchange). But in a movie with a big ensemble cast, the action is nicely balanced and the story comes through beautifully, so I think that's minor in the scheme of things.

My Grade: A
Rewatch Value: High

Next up: Office Space