Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – Heistmas

As we enter the Christmas season, it was only fitting to review some of my favorite heist movies. It is the biggest time of year for consumerism, so why not celebrate like this!? For my first installment of Heistmas, I’m talking about Ocean’s Eleven, which will always hold a special place in my thief-movie-loving heart.

The original Ocean’s Eleven starred The Rat Pack – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr – and was released in 1960. That, however, is not the movie I’m talking about today. I’m referring to the 2001 Steven Soderberg-directed film starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Eliott Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Don Cheadle, Shaobo Qin, and Carl Reiner. What a cast!

If you’ve somehow missed Ocean’s Eleven, the plot is simple: Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney) is released from prison after serving 4 of his 5-year sentence for felony fraud. Within 24 hours, he and his old partner, Rusty (Brad Pitt), put together a plan to rob three big-time Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.

I know there are better heist movies out there but this movie holds its place of my favorite in the heist genre because the reveal at the end was something I had never seen before. In addition to that, the complexity of weaving the storylines of each character into the overall plan Danny and Rusty have required a lot of planning on writer, Ted Griffin’s part, as well as Soderberg’s as the director.

The casting for Ocean’s Eleven is spot-on and I can’t think of any other people who would have been better in any of the roles, aside from possibly Andy Garcia. I would have rather seen Al Pacino in that role, but we do get him in the second sequel, Ocean’s Thirteen, so I guess it’s better than not getting him at all.

Music tends to play a big part in my enjoyment of movies. Luckily the music here fits the mood of the entire film and rings back to the original from 1960. The one song that always pops into my head when thinking of Ocean’s is “A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley.

While it’s easy to get stuck on well-known songs like that, David Holmes’ original music has the right energy and truly sets the tone for this particular heist. It’s cool, energetic, and keeps your attention during the montages where the crew is setting up or pulling off the job. The only problem I have from a music standpoint is that I can’t listen to the music without some of the lines from the movie when I pull it up on a streaming platform like Spotify. Nevertheless, I still love the feel it adds to the movie and, in a way, is a character itself.

What are your thoughts on Steven Soderberg’s Ocean’s Eleven?

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