Cinema Signal:

. "Ocean's Eleven"

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 doesn't disappoint.

Estimated cost: $90,000,000. Projected U.S. boxoffice: $185,000,000.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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