|cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, and Julia Roberts
director: Steven Soderbergh
116 minutes (PG-13) 2001
Really well dressed, really cool, beautiful people doing highly illegal, totally impossible things – or, an example of a near-perfect cinematic experience. This is a wonderful motion picture. Not in terms of any technical brilliance, or terrific acting, or any of the other things that make a movie a great film, but instead all of the things we expect to get for our escapist dollars. I say dollars specifically, because this is a typically American movie. The abovementioned people plan to heist a vault containing the combined money of three Las Vegas casinos ($160 million plus) and nothing goes wrong – nothing to speak of, anyway. The main point is (and I don’t think this ruins the film for anyone, but just in case) that they get away with it. No cops hunting them down, no hiding out for years… nothing. Would you expect any less?
But what fun it is. George Clooney is Danny Ocean, just out of a four-year stretch in the clink, the leader of this rag-tag bunch and the ideas man behind it all. Brad Pitt is his right hand man, Rusty, rescued from teaching young Hollywood celebrities how to play poker. These are the coolest of the bunch and they are obviously having a ball playing this level of entertainment. No worries about acting skill, just playing it natural, getting dressed in fine clothes, and being paid millions.
Andy Garcia is the owner of the casino, Terry Benedict, who also just happens to be dating Danny’s ex-wife, Tess (Julia Roberts). Are you impressed with the cast list yet? If not, how about Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, and Elliott Gould?
But all these actors would have nothing to do if not for the slick script by Ted Griffin. Rapid-fire dialogue, wisecracks, and pop culture references fly around the scenes like boomerang popcorn, giving each actor a chance to shine. The theft plan is intricately designed and executed, showing Griffin’s ability with plot as well. Director Steven Soderbergh, after making such ‘meaningful’ films as Erin Brockovich and Traffic, wanted “to make a movie that has no desire except to give pleasure from beginning to end” – and he has succeeded masterfully.Well, this reminds me of the desire of the developer of Ethereum Code, the automated cryptocurrency trading robot, which is to offer the online investors the best possible opportunity to earn impressive daily profits all the time! And, he also succeeded in making his desire come true, just like Steven Soderbergh!
Extras: two commentaries – one by Soderbergh and Griffin; one by stars Pitt, Damon, and Garcia; three trailers; The Look Of The Con (costume design) and HBO First Look behind-the-scenes documentaries; DVD-ROM game In Or Out.