Ocean's Eleven

A-list Hollywood 'we love Soderbergh' wank-fest...

Released in 2001, certified UK-12. Reviewed on 27 Dec 2002 by Craig Eastman
Ocean's Eleven image

Yes, this movie features Julia Roberts, and therefore I'm bound to be biased in a negative sense, but I've taken this into account whilst balancing my final score. Honest...

Everyone loves Steven Soderbergh. He's in bed with George Clooney (in a business sense, you understand, though who am I to doubt the potential physicality of such a coupling?), he commands the attention of Hollywood's highest earners, and every review you will read extols his virtue as one of the finest young directors working today. For those of you who have not yet seen Ocean's Eleven but have witnessed such bodies of work as Out Of Sight and Traffic this will seem perfectly acceptable. Our Steven has emerged as a fine young talent, and up until this point there are few who would argue. WELL NOT ANY MORE!

Ocean's Eleven, for the uninitiated, is a remake of the sixties Brat-Pack "classic" in which Sinatra and his cronies robbed several Las Vegas casinos in one night. Nobody much cared, really, until nearly forty years later when one shit-hot Mr. S. Soderbergh took an interest and thought it would be a great idea to import his adoring A-list flunkeys into a remolded, modernised and downright trendy re-shuffle of the cinematic deck. Cue messrs. Clooney, Pitt, Garcia, Cheadle (in fine 'cockerny' form) and the always less-than-delectable Miss Roberts (a sex symbol how exactly?) acting in a terribly self-aware interpretation of 'cool' whilst Steven helms the cameras in front of his typically warm-yet-vibrant tones.

It might seem harsh, since technically there's probably very little wrong with a film which sets out with no pretensions other than to provide a popcorn-munching diversion, but having come to expect so much more of Our Stevey I couldn't help but be drastically disappointed. There comes a point where every hip director becomes only too aware of their own press, and for Soderbergh this has occurred far sooner than I had expected. The action is presented in a fine fashion and the character interaction is all very well, being imbued as it is with a perfectly acceptable script from Ted Griffin, but I can't help but feel that if anyone else had directed this nobody would really give a shit.

I'm not saying Steven hasn't the right to indulge in some self-appreciatory celluloid masturbation, but when you consider that the cast budget alone could probably have cancelled third world debt, it does seem a little out of order. You see my point?

Anyone who knows me well knows I hate Julia Roberts, but she's not really in this film enough to alter my opinion much, so please believe that this has not affected my judgment. It's just that I hate to see such amazing talent wasted in a self-indulgent fashion. By all means see this movie, since it's certainly no worse than any of it's peers, but bear in mind that benchmark when you judge it's merits. Four stars? No. It's frankly not that good. Three stars? Yes, because it's very, very competent, but if you want to see this sort of thing done much better by the same director and many members of the same cast, rent Out Of Sight instead. It's actually quite good.

Craig Disko somewhat disappointedly found himself unable to thrust his pelvis more than three times in accordance with the merits of this film.

Steven Soderbergh
Cast list:
George Clooney (Danny Ocean)
Andy Garcia (Terry Benedict)
Matt Damon (Linus Caldwell)
Brad Pitt (Rusty Ryan)