While the 1960 "Ocean's Eleven" was little more than an excuse for Frank Sinatra and his rat pack buddies to hang out together in Vegas (like they really needed an excuse to party), Steven Soderbergh's update turns this second-rate movie into cinema gold.
Admittedly, no amount of tinkering can make the original's flimsy heist plot seem substantial, but then that's the point - this film isn't trying to be great art, just damn fine entertainment.
A group of 11 heist experts plan to rip off three Las Vegas casinos owned by Terry Benedict (Garcia), in one evening. Headed by Danny Ocean (Clooney), with the assorted talents of Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and others, the gang is aiming for the haul of the century. But what does the fact that Danny's ex-wife (Roberts) is now Benedict's girlfriend have to do with the score?
The professionalism displayed here is a joy to watch; Clooney's matinee idol turn, Pitt's understated co-star role - a quirky performance where he eats his way through virtually every scene - and the supporting talents of Garcia, Damon, and Elliot Gould are priceless. There's only two bum notes in the form of Don Cheadle's truly awful (and totally unnecessary) British accent, and Julia Roberts' underperformed love interest.
Soderbergh matches his actors by crafting one of the slickest blockbusters in years, throwing in lots of fancy moves, eye-catching shots (a stunning aerial approach across the water to Atlantic City), and the perfect pace. How often do you get to see a talented film maker work in such a playful manner, without ever making a mistake?
Unabashed Hollywood entertainment, "Ocean's Eleven" raises the benchmark for all future blockbusters and is guaranteed to put a grin on your face from ear to ear.