Ocean's Eleven
2001

Yet another film that I never got around to seeing when it was originally released, I put my feet up and watched this one on Christmas Eve. Despite the spectacular backdrop of the Las Vegas strip, a hefty budget ($85m) and a cast top heavy with Hollywood A-listers, it just never all came together for me.

I was expecting the main storyline of this film to be something fairly believable and marginally possible, but alas no - as the plot progressed it became more and more akin to something resembling a cross between Mission Impossible and the Italian Job (the original one). The performances of all of the big names are uninspiring (Matt Damon's particularly so), and Ms Roberts (who plays the hero's ex and who's taken up with the bad guy played by Andy Garcia) was missing the style and sensuality she usually brings to the big screen; perhaps it got lost in one of her designer handbags somewhere? Any presentable supporting actress between the age of thirty and fifty could have delivered the role as well, if not better. The producers also have a solid case for a refund on the script-writers' fees.

When it comes to the "realism" aspect, I could see I'd be on thin ice from the outset. Looking as though he'd just returned from a weekend spa retreat rather than having just done a four stretch in the state pen, Danny Ocean (the hero played by George Clooney), is released on parole, despite taking a less than engaging approach to his meeting with the Parole Board. The following day he sets out to look up Rusty Ryan (I kid you not - a role played by Brad Pitt), who isn't a porn star but someone with a dubious but undisclosed past who teaches aspiring Hollywood stars how to play cards. Together they set out to recruit a team of specialists to rob the shared vault used by three of the bigget casinos on the Las Vegas strip. They secure what seems to be an unlimited amount of finance from a former casino mogul (played by Eliot Gould) who has a score to settle with the the bad guy (who is the owner/manager of the casinos in the frame), and who's seemingly content to risk exchanging his luxurious lifestyle for doing time for conspiracy if it all goes tits up. From there onwards the James Bond screenplay writers take over.

The plot goes on to include the team stealing an advanced experimental gadget from a University science campus, the only one of it's type in the world and which just happens to be located in a poorly secured annexe building in California, and using it to generate a massive electro-magnetic pulse, of nuclear detonation proportions, that creates a complete electrical black-out across the central Las Vegas area. Interesting that the explosives expert from "Sowf Lunden" (played by Don Cheadle, putting on an appalling London geezer's accent) happens to know instinctively how to use it and that it operated successfully from the rear of the US equivalent of a transit van - perhaps they powered it off of the lighter socket? Just goes to show the value of a GCSE in physics. If the plot had included the team breaking into Area 51 and flying out in the latest top-secret experimental aircraft it wouldn't have been any more silly.

As you might expect, just about everything from there on goes to plan, and it ends with happy faces all round for the crims. The team gets away with the $180m that was in the vaults, George Clooney, after doing another six months for parole violation, leaves the nic looking like he's just attended an opening night somewhere and wins back the affections of the previously embittered Julia Roberts, presumably having recovered from her temporary lapse in taste. Andy Garcia is left with egg on his face and no woman, and Matt Damon enrols in acting school for a refresher and to see what went wrong.

Apparently Ocean's Eleven was the fifth highest grossing movie of 2001, and was received to "critical acclaim". Not in the UK-21 household it wasn't - all in all a badly acted, bollocks movie that should have been a cracker but which turned out to be a damp squib. I've no plans to watch the two sequels.

December 2014.


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