Oceans 11 At Twenty

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It’s somewhat hard to believe that Oceans 11 is now twenty years old. Maybe that realisation just makes me feel old!

Released in 2001, the film’s heavyweight cast was led by George Clooney and Brad Pitt in this reimagining of the 1960 movie of the same name.

Considered by many to be one of the greatest modern heist movies, does it still hold its own after twenty years?

Overall, the answer is yes. The pacing is great, the slow reveal of the heist plan (often after the event) is well executed and the ensemble cast of diverse characters bounce off each other without any obvious weak points.

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The movie is not without it’s failings, however. The plan itself is genius and complex, but many of the characters do an appalling job of covering their tracks. Stolen uniforms are just discarded in elevators, Rusty just leaves a mobile phone dripping with his fingerprints inside the casino and the crew abandons their whole control centre inside a hotel room. The trail of evidence is extensive, although that may all be moot since Benedict is fairly certain of who has robbed him by films end.

The only thing that really dates this movie is the technology used by the characters, which is an unfair criticism of something beyond the filmmakers control. Tess claims she “doesn’t have a cell phone” (seriously, people like you don’t exist anymore sadly), Linus deliberately leaves his pager behind and much of the hardware like cameras and computers are beginning to show their obsolescence.

There’s a few plot holes here and there – usually related to how easy it would be to catch these guys because they don’t cover their tracks – but I suspect Oceans 11 was never intended to be a serious, bulletproof heist movie.

To me, the movie intended to be clever and fun. Twenty years on, it continues to tick both those boxes and in my opinion still reigns supreme over the three Oceans movies that followed.

If it’s been a while, make the the twentieth anniversary your excuse to revisit Oceans 11. Still entertaining, witty, intelligent and sharp after two decades. It really is ageing better than it’s descendants.

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