Flashback Review: Ocean’s 11 (2001)

In the year 1960, a heist comedy called, “Ocean’s 11” starring The Rat Pack, a group of actors/singers/comedians led by Frank Sinatra, his pals Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Joey Bishop & Peter Lawford. The film is about a thief named Danny Ocean, (played by Frank Sinatra) who recruits a band of thieves (played by Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Joey Bishop & Peter Lawford) to rob five casinos simultaneously in one night. Each man uses his unique skill to infiltrate a selective casino.

Four Decades Later, Warner Bros. (WB for short) handpicked Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Magic Mike, Logan Lucky) to direct a remake of the classic 60’s film with George Clooney portraying Danny Ocean and his crew played by Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Elliot Gould, Eddie Jamison, Shaobo Quin & Carl Reiner.

By The way, I’ve never seen the original Rat Pack film. First time I’ve heard of Ocean’s 11, was the remake.

Ocean’s 11 was released in 2001. (same year Shrek and Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone came out) It received positive reviews from critics and made enough money at the box office.

The remake spawned two sequels released in 2004 and the final entry came out in 2007. Thus, the three films are part of The Ocean’s Trilogy.

With Ocean’s 8 coming out starring George Clooney longtime friend Sandra Bullock as his onscreen sister, I want to share my real thoughts on Ocean’s 11 to see if it still holds up upon release. Then, I’ll continue to watch Ocean’s 12 & 13, to refresh my memory.

The following article does not feature big fat SPOILERS. If you’ve never ever seen the whole thing, feel free to read it. Does it still hold up to this day? Well, let’s find out shall we?

Rich & Poor Qualities

Rich: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Elliott Gould, Eddie Jamison, Shaobo Qin & Carl Reiner all did a fantastic job for their respective performances as the titular team.

Fun Fact: Mark Wahlberg was considered for the role of Matt Damon’s character Linus. He turned it down to star in Tim Burton’s god awful remake of Planet Of The Apes, which is also a remake of a classic movie from The 60’s. Mark & Matt went on to co-star in the Oscar winning film The Departed with Brad Pitt as a co-producer.

It was Brad Pitt’s idea to have his character Rusty Ryan, to eat in almost every scene he’s in due to a heavy schedule of filming, Steven decided to let the cameraman film between takes. This became a running gag throughout the film and its sequels.

Cast Members outside of Danny Ocean & his crew such as Julia Roberts & Andy Garcia both did a great job for their respective performances.

Steven Soderbergh did a great job directing the film.

Funny Moments managed to give me several chuckles. Especially Danny who did a jab at actors who starred in a successful TV show, will eventually end up in a critically panned film. This is perhaps a subtle reference to George Clooney’s career going from ER to Batman & Robin. If anybody brings up Batman & Robin, George will give a stranger dollars as an apology. Why can’t other actors be generous towards their fanbase as a way of saying “I’m sorry I’ve wasted your money for making you watch my latest movie.”

Chemistry between Danny & his crew were funny and they act like a team without shoving a “We’re Finished As Partners” cliche as in every Buddy Cop Film. Steven made sure to have the actors as friends on and offset to flesh out their chemistry realistically as a sign for Method Acting. The Cast would often listen to Carl Reiner’s stories and play blackjack. I’ll give this positive element in Extra Point for The Cast becoming friends just like their onscreen roles. I consider teamwork as The Main Highlight for the film.

Other than robbing three casinos simultaneously, Danny has a personal reason why he wants to do this.

According to screenwriter Ted Griffin, the film is influenced by The Magnificent Seven (1960) & The Great Escape. Do you know what they have in common? They both feature an ensemble cast and came out in The 60’s alongside the original Ocean’s 11.

Practical Effects were heavily used to orchestrate scenes related to The Heist.

Cinematography felt stable without any technical difficulties.

Editing had some creative transitions to match the setup for The Heist, by using split screens effectively.

Carl Reiner’s character is named Saul. I would assume that Vince Gilligan watched The Ocean’s Trilogy and he decided to create his own con man named, Saul Goodman.

Topher Grace, Joshua Jackson, Holly Marie Combs, Barry Watson & Shane West make cameo appearances.

Poor: Product Placement feature certain brands such as Dr. Pepper, Philips, Sony, & Rolex. I’ll give this flaw a pass, because I couldn’t find anything else to shove down my throat.

The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!

Ocean’s 11 is an instant classic among heist films, it still holds up to this day as it established a new set of successful heist films like The Italian Job, The Fast & The Furious sequels Ant-Man & Inception. I consider Ocean’s 11 as one of the best remakes out there right next to other notable ones including The Fly, Cape Fear, 3:10 To Yuma, King Kong & True Grit. If you’re excited to see Ocean’s 8, go ahead and give this film a shot. Don’t forget to watch 12 & 13 if you want to get caught up.

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