Greg DeMarco returns with another movie review! This time around it’s his #1 favorite movie, Ocean’s Eleven.
As we continue to expand our content offerings at The Chairshot, I am here with a review my my all-time favorite movie–Ocean’s Eleven! This is my second movie review here on the site, as the first was for this year’s Dave Batista offering, My Spy. I got some feedback that my last review was too synopsis heavy and not enough review. Thanks to that feedback, this review is formatted differently.
(That feedback came from someone who has written movie reviews, and taught people how to do them. She’s also my wife, the Lovely & Talented Mrs. DeMarco).
Ocean’s Eleven: My favorite movie…ever.
I first saw Ocean’s Eleven on a random Friday afternoon as part of a work outing that I planned for my team while working as a manager at Capital One. I loved it so much that I went back and saw it again…that night. This movie turned me on to heist movies because of the twists and turns, along with the amazing ensemble cast.
If you’re familiar with Ocean’s Eleven–GO WATCH IT NOW! But in all seriousness, it’s a heist movie where Danny Ocean (George Clooney) leads a band of sophisticated criminals (including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and many others) into the vault of The Bellagio, The Mirage, and The MGM Grand. As you’ll learn, those are Terry Benedict’s casino’s, and Benedict happens to be dating Tess Ocean, Danny’s estranged (and allegedly former) wife. Like any good heist movie (and this is the best), it’s full of twists, turns, and a big reveal at the end.
Why do I love this movie so much? Read on and see!
Amazing and Eclectic Cast Of Characters
One of the biggest strengths of Ocean’s Eleven is the cast. It’s unheard of to get this type of group together, and it becomes increasingly challenging in the rest of the trilogy. Danny Ocean’s crew features 11 in total (hence the name), and each is equally amazing and diverse:
- Danny Ocean (George Clooney) – Career thief who immediately violates parole when released from prison so he can travel to Las Vegas and plan this insane heist.
- Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) – Career thief who is partially responsible for putting Danny in jail, but is right there when he wants to take down Benedict’s trifecta of casinos.
- Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) – Former casino owner who also basically invented casino security. He was muscled out by Terry Benedict, and is the money man behind the operation.
- Virgil (Casey Affleck) & Turk (Scott Caan) Malloy – The Malloy Twins from Utah are the classic henchmen of the bunch, playing numerous roles throughout the film.
- Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle) – Munitions expert fresh off of a job that pales in comparison to the one that will require him to knock out all of the power in Las Vegas.
- The Amazing Yen (Shaobo Qin) – Tent-act acrobat that is key to avoiding the sensors inside a heavily guarded vault.
- Frank Catton (Bernic Mac) – Card dealer and thief who can’t get past the gaming board–a fact that comes back into play throughout his show-stealing performance in this movie.
- Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner) – Legendary thief who’s still got it, as he proves after threatening Danny for merely asking if he’s up for the role.
- Livingston Dell (Eddie Jemison) – Technology guru that hacks into the impenetrable surveillance system at The Bellagio.
- Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) – Pick-pocket son of a crime artist who doesn’t want to trade on his father’s name…and after this job he won’t have to!
The movie also features two key characters who aren’t part of the Eleven, but who make this movie go:
- Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) – Casino owner who forced Reuben out of the business, and happens to be dating Danny’s (supposed) ex-wife.
- Tess Ocean (Julia Roberts) – Supposed ex-wife of Danny Ocean who divorced him while he was in prison…or did she?
I’m not a huge fan of listing out the cast, but for this movie it’s 100% appropriate. And what a crew this is!
The best part of Ocean’s Eleven (and that’s saying a lot) is the dialogue. So much is said during this film, including things that are said without words. Plenty of the dialogue was improvised, but much of it was also the brainchild of director Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and more) and writer Ted Griffin (Ravenous, Matchstick Men).
Check out some of these gems!
- Rusty: You’d need at least a dozen guys doing a combination of cons.
Danny: Like what, do you think?
Rusty: Off the top of my head, I’d say you’re looking at a Boeski, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever!
- Reuben: You guys are pros. The best. I’m sure you can make it out of the casino. Of course, lest we forget, once you’re out the front door, you’re still in the middle of the f***ing desert!
- Danny (to Rusty): Ten oughta do it, don’t you think? You think we need one more? You think we need one more. All right, we’ll get one more.
- Danny: Tess, you’re doing a great job curating the museum, the Vermeer is quite good, simple, vibrant, but his work definitely fell off as he got older.
Tess: Remind you of anyone?
Danny: And I always confuse Monet and Manet. Now which one married his mistress.
Danny: Right, and then Manet had syphilis.
Tess: They also painted occasionally.
- Reuben: Look, we all go way back and uh, I owe you from the thing with the guy in the place and I’ll never forget it.
Danny: That was our pleasure.
Rusty: I’d never been to Belize.
There are so many “you had to be there” moments listed above, but that’s another reason why you need to watch this movie. The dialogue is so damn good!
The Heist (capitalized on purpose) itself is basically a character in the movie, and a pivotal one at that. From the introduction of the heist by Danny to the crew to the fake-out filmed in a mock-up to Danny being “out” of the heist to the phone call placed from Rusty to Terry right in the middle of it all, this heist is brilliantly planned and executed. Whenever a plan is executed in a movie there are holes that you can poke, but those don’t expand beyond simple suspension of disbelief, and definitely don’t change what we see on screen.
Like most movie heists, there is an ulterior motive, and here it’s Danny working to get Tess back. Of course that all comes to a head with her boyfriend Terry Benedict, who owns the casinos they are robbing. Add in the show masterful performances of Clooney, Roberts, and Garcia, and this has greatness written all over it.
Overall Impression of Ocean’s Eleven
You already know, this is my favorite movie. I fell in love with heist movies from here, including Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen. Those pale in comparison to this, so much so that I don’t even consider them as sequels when evaluating how great they are. That’s not a knock on 12 or 13, it’s a testament to how much I love this movie.
This movie has it all, from dialogue to intrigue to action, and all in small doses. It’s easy to follow, yet still surprising in the end. I haven’t watched it in a few months–surprising since we’re sitting home in the middle of a pandemic–but I am going to pop that DVD in this weekend!
Greg DeMarco’s Rating: 5/5