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Ocean's Eleven [2001]

Title: Ocean's Eleven [2001]

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Stars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, et al.

Reviewer: Matt Eccles

Rating (out of 10): 7


After the seemingly universal critical praise heaped on Erin Brokovich and Traffic, two intense dramas that showed Steven Soderbergh as being one of the most gifted of contemporary directors, the maestro decided it was time to have some fun and re-make a fairly undistinguished 1960 heist caper.

That sense of fun is easily transmitted to the audience here, as Soderbergh has succeeded in giving us one of 2002's most purely entertaining films; further evidence, if it were needed, that he has joined that elite echelon of directors who do not seem able to make a truly bad movie.

It's been a while since a film containing such a prestigious cast has so effortlessly delivered the goods - now we have two arriving in the same month (Robert Altman's period flick Gosford Park being the other). George Clooney (as Daniel Ocean) and Brad Pitt (as "Rusty" Ryan) are impossibly charismatic as the main protagonists, and they are very well supported by the likes of Carl Reiner and Elliott Gould. However, most memorable is Andy Garcia's understated performance as the Bellagio's ruthless, malevolent casino owner Terry Benedict. His steely gaze and calm but intimidating demeanour neatly counterpoints the more showy displays from the heist team.

On the other hand, Julia Roberts - as Benedict's lover and Ocean's ex-wife - has little to do other than look constantly edgy and resist her ex-husband's amorous approaches. Most of the time she merely serves as a device that attempts to give further credence to Ocean's motivation behind the robbery. However, this is a minor quibble, and once your attentions are drawn to the confident, zippy storytelling and the cool swagger of the dialogue, you've hardly any choice but to sit back and be thoroughly entertained.

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