Published on June 15th, 2008 | by simeon0
The grand caper has long been a staple of film and book. Stories ranging from the “Great Train Robbery”, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance ” and even the recent “Bandits” have chronicled the exploits of so called gentlemen bandits. They earned this nickname by being charismatic individuals who the public see as doing no harm to the average person but rather an institution in an us against them mentality.
Such is the case in the remake of the “Oceans 11”. The film stars George Clooney as Danny Ocean. A recently paroled, and recently divorced crook who blames his recent arrest on stress caused by a failing marriage. No sooner is Danny released from prison, than he starts to contact his old gang and recruit a few new members in order to pull of a heist to end all heists. Assisting Danny is Dusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), a smooth and confident operator who is very much Danny’s right hand man. During a meeting with a prospective financier, Ruben Tischkoff (Elliott Gould), Danny and Dusty reveal that they intend to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously by robbing the central vault that the three casino share. The fact that a casino robbery has never been successful is of little concern to them, as they believe they have the perfect plan. As the team is assembled it is determined that 11 people are needed to pull off the heist ranging from an acrobat, computer techs, drivers, decoys and a pickpocket named Linus (Matt Damon).
The targeted hotels are run by Harry Benedict(Andy Garcia), who is known for his brutal practices both in and out of the business arena and has more than a few people who want to settle old scores with him. Ruben wants to get back at him for forcing him to close his casino years back, and Danny wants to get him as he is sleeping with his ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts).
What follows is the predictable plot device where the impenetrable vault and its security systems are displayed as the group plans the various phases of the heist, and encounter problems along the way such as Ocean being identified by the casino and flagged to be followed causing another person to be needed in his role and his pursuit of his ex-wife. What could have been an enjoyable film falls flat and becomes very stale and forgettable. Clooney once again is playing himself and his suave charmer role is getting very stale. As the brains behind the operation, Clooney plays Ocean as if he were sleepwalking in the role. Clooney and Roberts have very little chemistry and their scenes with one another are forced and stiff. Brad Pitt is the supporting player in the piece who does little more than stand around stiffly with a smirk looking like he is in on an inside joke and like the majority of the cast, displays as much range as a Daisy air rifle in a wind storm. Unlike his great supporting rolls in “Spy Games” and “Snatch” Pitt is reduced to being little more than a background fixture and a substitute for Danny when Danny is not in a scene. Sadly the same holds true for the remainder of the cast. There is little to no character development, chemistry or motivation amongst the characters. The $150 Million take is the motivation of the characters for the robbery, but we hear nothing about there plans for the money, why they want to risk their lives when there are easier targets and why they believe they can trust one another. We know that Danny has worked with some of them in the past, but that does not explain why the new people follow their assignments without question and trust Danny blindly.
As the villain, Garcia’s character is badly underwritten. We see that he is dangerous to those who would cross him, but tell me what person would not be when they have $150 million and the reputation of their business at stake especially in such a high stakes industry?
The ending of the film is also a disappointment as events unfold in what is a predictable manner only to have a sequence at the end where the audience at the press screener was asking “what about the …..”? “Oceans 11” unfolds more like a pet project as it seems that the actors were winging it and portraying characterizations of other characters from their past careers and from generic heist films. What results is a stale and lifeless film, that has many of its jokes fail and features a total lack of chemistry amongst the cast resulting in little for the audience to care about much less route for.
2 stars out of 5