Review: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

ocean's eleven

A film that answers the eternal question, can cool carry a movie?

Screenplay By: Ted Griffin
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh

I’ll let the cat out of the bag right away, this film is pretty cool. From start to finish the goal appears to be to create as cool of a movie as is possible, and for the most part this Steven Soderbergh film succeeds. The question becomes, does the movie have anything to offer besides its coolness? Is there anything that Ocean’s Eleven does that is not an attempt to be cool? There’s an easy answer to those questions, and that answer is no.

Before anyone gets all riled up, I’m not dismissing Ocean’s Eleven for being cool. I’m merely acknowledging the truth of what the film is, and aims to be. There’s nothing wrong with a film that wants to be cool, and it’s okay for said film to only be cool. That describes Ocean’s Eleven to a T, it’s a film that is only good at one thing, and that’s being cool. Every moment of the film is geared towards exuding a certain level of cool. Anyone looking for any sort of deepness to Ocean’s Eleven will be disappointed, because there’s no such depth to be found in the film. This is a heist film that wants the audience to laugh and have a good time with its characters who are too cool for school.

I’ve used the word a lot already, in fact I’m beginning to annoy myself with how often I’m using it, but cool is the word of the hour when it comes to Ocean’s Eleven. Near the end of the film we get to see Brad Pitt’s Rusty standing outside of a prison eating a cheeseburger. There shouldn’t be much that is interesting or compelling about such a scene. However, the way that Rusty is filmed leaning against a post, the shirt he’s wearing, and the way he holds the cheeseburger all scream, “this guys is boss in a major way.” That’s the level of cool at play in Ocean’s Eleven, and that’s why Ocean’s Eleven is a prime example of a film that is all style and still damn good.

There is one major detriment to Ocean’s Eleven, and that’s everything having to do with Julia Roberts. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of hers, and this film does not use her wisely. Her character is vacuous, which is fine since all the characters in the movie are. However, she’s vacuous because we’re supposed to find her intriguing and believe that she’s gorgeous enough for a guy to go back to prison for. I wouldn’t go to prison for Miss Roberts, I would even go to the corner store for her. Every actor in the film runs circles around her, and when she is on screen her attempts to try and keep up with the dandy nature of all the other characters are laughable.

Ocean’s Eleven is nowhere near the top of Mr. Soderbergh’s filmography. It’s a one trick pony, but it does its one trick so well that the film is an enjoyable ride. I’ve said it often, but I had fun watching Mr. Soderbergh directing such fine actors to walk around and ooze cool. Some movies are fine for what they are, Ocean’s Eleven is one of those movies, and that’s why I like it.



Bill Thompson

2 responses to “Review: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

  1. Soderbergh definitely made the right jump for the mainstream with this and it made me happy to see that he stuck through this franchise, even if it did begin to lose a lot of steam by the end. Good review Bill.

  2. I’ve never seen the two that follow, but I’m sure I’ll get to them at some point.

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