Danny Ocean (George Clooney) celebrates his release from prison by robbing three Las Vegas casinos, not including the Trump Casino because there’s presumably no money in it.
Ocean’s Eleven is one of several pre-financial crash heist movies (The Italian Job remake, The Bank Job) where the only justification for stealing a bunch of money is that everyone has a bit too much of it and (in this case) to win back a woman. This is undoubtedly a shallow film but a slick, entertaining one, not about anything except Hollywood glamour. Taking its cues from 1973’s The Sting, it has the box office masterstroke of pairing the two best-looking actors: George Clooney and Brad Pitt, the Paul Newman and Robert Redford of their generation.
The eponymous Expendables of grifters includes Matt Damon, Elliott Gould and Don Cheadle doing the worst cockney accent since Al Pacino. Julia Roberts plays the aforementioned woman whose role is limited to literally just standing there, while Topher Grace cameos in a poker scene and ad-libs a line I could have sworn he got from That ’70s Show: “All reds!” Pitt eats in every scene and Clooney is as smooth and sparkly as expensive champagne, their sharp clothes matching the snappy dialogue and funky music. This is what they call a glossy remake, updating the 1960 Rat Pack film with style and a twinkle in its eye.
Steven Soderbergh pours Mission: Impossible, James Bond and the Armani catalogue into a cocktail shaker, his dynamic direction setting such a heady pace that there’s no time to stop and question the impossible plot (the vault’s security system supposedly rivals that of a nuclear missile silo) because this is Hollywood Fantasy: The Movie. Cons are all about diversion, and it doesn’t get much more diverting than Ocean’s Eleven.