Steven Soderbergh comedy crime caper kicked off my journey through Empire’s Top 500 movies, and it remains an incredibly easy to watch upbeat romp. It’s by no means a faultless classic, but with that much charisma and star wattage on display and a neatly twisting and turning heist plot running through it, it’s an easy film to just sit back and enjoy.
It’s worth remembering how much fun this first Ocean’s movie was before the smugness of its first sequel ruined a lot of the good will the franchise accumulated. George Clooney and Brad Pitt are perfectly cast as the suave conmen at the film’s centre, and their crack team of thieves, and blaggers are nearly all perfectly cast as well. The less said about Don Cheadle’s accent the better, but Bernie Mac, Elliot Gould, Casey Affleck and Carl Reiner all stand out.
The elaborate heist itself is wonderfully plotted but part of the fun is watching the gang get there in the first place. Watching them formulate their con and carry out the legwork is all part of the fun and while we are never fully made aware of the exact details of their plan, it’s a joy just to watch it unfold before you.
Everything from the finger-clicking modern jazz soundtrack to the gaudy bright lights of Vegas are pitch perfect and it was exactly this jovial tone that the sequels struggled so drastically to replicate. It may not be reinventing the wheel by any sense of the imagination, but it remains a witty and stylish blockbuster that is popcorn entertainment at its best.