Extremely slick yet consistently entertaining, Ocean’s Eleven follows George Clooney’s Danny Ocean as he begins planning an ambitious casino heist literally minutes after his release from prison – with the movie detailing Danny’s efforts at putting together a team and, eventually, their collaborative efforts at pulling off the seemingly impossible caper. Director Steven Soderbergh, working from Ted Griffin’s screenplay, does a stellar job of immediately drawing the viewer into the briskly-paced proceedings, with Ocean’s Eleven‘s appealing opening stretch, devoted to the enlistment of Danny’s various cohorts, certainly establishing a lighthearted vibe that persists for the duration of the picture’s running time. It’s clear immediately, as well, that the film benefits substantially from Clooney’s almost unreasonably charismatic work as the central character, and there’s little doubt that the actor’s magnetic turn is matched by an impressive supporting cast that includes, among others, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, and Elliott Gould. Soderbergh generally does an effective job of balancing the heist-related shenanigans with more character-driven moments, with the narrative momentum, as a result, growing consistently in the buildup to the twist-laden third act (ie the robbery itself is far more exciting than one might’ve anticipated and the revelations of the climax only heighten that feeling). And while the whole thing ultimately doesn’t add up to much beyond pure escapism (ie the movie dissipates from the viewer’s mind almost as soon as it ends), Ocean’s Eleven nevertheless stands as an engaging, entertaining caper that joins the ranks of the genre’s most affable entries.
*** out of ****