Ocean’s Eleven works due a stunning ensemble cast, all playing complete, believable characters trying to rob three Las Vegas casinos. More importantly, the cast is able to work together brilliantly, using small eye movements and head motions to convey their thoughts about the people they’re working with.
Also critical is that you root for this mish-mashed group of thieves. Obviously, anyone trying to steal $160 million from a casino does not instantly relate well. However, this is a group of guys you fall in love with, who manage to look past various mix-ups and mistakes to complete their heist.
They never fight or bicker. They’re smooth and stylish, not to mention calm under pressure. No one folds under pressure, and even when mistakes are made, they turn them into jokes and move on.
For instance, Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) finds the bickering of the two Malloy brothers (Casey Affleck, Scott Caan) too much to handle inside the confines of a small van. He breaks from the vehicle despite being told otherwise, entering into a building where other Ocean’s crew are stealing an item.
Caldwell becomes cornered by security, breaks a window, climbs onto an awning, and jumps into the van. Danny Ocean’s (George Clooney) makes a snide comment, and they move on as if nothing happened. Nothing bothers them. They become a unit, yet still individuals in terms of their personas.
Additional credit is due to Ted Griffin’s screenplay, taken from the 1960 original. Time has created a plot that feels smarter, including a wonderful, logical twist ending that truly throws the audience for a loop. The extra level of gloss that comes with modern filmmaking also helps create a more complete film that engrosses the viewer from the opening moments of Ocean’s parole hearing.
Ocean’s moves quickly, both due to the scripting and Steven Soderbergh’s direction. The heist takes on a natural flow, one that has their plan set within the opening act. Necessary information is delivered without stopping, or forgetting to keep the audience entertained. This is a film almost too clever for its own good, but it relishes at the opportunity to show off.
Warner delivers a fine, slightly flawed VC-1 encode for Ocean’s Blu-ray debut, identical to the HD DVD transfer. A thin veil of grain nicely sits over the image, occasionally producing a mildly noisy background or two. It is only slightly distracting.
Depth is fine, with deep blacks and excellent shadow delineation. Facial detail is nice, if not completely stable. Drops are noted but usually brief. Contrast runs hot during outdoor scenes, undoubtedly directors choice. Color is nicely saturated and flesh tones are accurate. The fly-over Vegas nighttime shots are truly spectacular.
Some print damage, typically white specks, are constant throughout. They can become an annoyance. Still, the transfer does well, even handling some of the complex striped patterns on shirts and suits without aliasing or shimmering.
Warner, as usual, skimps on uncompressed audio, offering a flat Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. It does deliver at times, including some nice bass as a building is demolished and the main safe is opened. Surrounds are typically quiet, and a crowded arena full of boxing fans doesn’t deliver the usual level of immersion. Dialogue is fine if a bit quiet at times.
Two commentaries are included, necessary if you want to know about the movies since the rest of the extras are bland. Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and Andy Garcia deliver the first, while director Steven Soderbergh and writer Ted Griffin handle the technical details on the second.
A HBO making of is purely promotional in nature, and a short featurette on the clothing used in the film is exactly what it claims to be. Trailers remain.