When a studio hires a cool director who casts a cool crew of actors for a
cool heist film the result can be expected to be below a certain temperature.
Well, it is. What's more, it doesn't have to be compared to the 1960 film
with Frank Sinatra and his "rat pack" to be appreciated as a nicely executed
piece of intricate workmanship.
Danny Ocean (George Clooney), a convicted thief, is released from prison and
sets about to pick up where he left off, namely, to plan the biggest heist in
the history of Las Vegas. To pull it off, he assembles his choice crew of 11
that includes a card sharp (Brad Pitt), a pickpocket (Matt Damon) and a
demolition expert (Don Cheadle). But his partners in crime begin to doubt his
motives when they figure out that the casino magnate Terrence Benedict (Andy
Garcia) he is targeting is vry involved with his ex, Contessa "Tess" Ocean
(Julia Roberts). Was there ever a less likely "Terrence" or "Contessa"? Be
that as it may. Names and titles here are unimportant.
If the show isn't stolen by Carl Reiner as Saul Bloom, it's aided and abetted
by Elliott Gould as Reuben Tishkoff.
The sexual tension of a love triangle between the ruthless casino owner,
a master thief and a beautiful moll, is the underlift to the plan, the
operation, the numerous snafus and the everpresent danger of getting
caught. You are intended to get caught up in it and you do because these are
all likeable personalities, a case in which the combined charisma of an
A-list cast playing idealized versions of themselves is so well employed to
produce a popular commercial product with a considerable amount of drama.
Director Steven Soderbergh might not be as edgy in his selection of project
as he was for "Traffic", "The Limey", etc., but he cleverly hews to the
requirements of a thriller style and puts out a taut entertainment that
Estimated cost: $90,000,000. Projected U.S. boxoffice: $185,000,000.
~~ Jules Brenner