I have watched Ocean’s Eleven probably close to that many times, and it has not lost any of its charm. Admittedly, the first time I watched it, I was much too young, not in terms of inappropriate content. There was just so much in the movie that I missed. So the next couple of times I watched it were bound to be better since I was able to appreciate more of what the movie has to offer. It wasn’t until I started approaching the double digits in views that I felt that I was able to appreciate all of what the film has to offer. The dialogue, story, and relationships throughout the movie are strong, but the subtleties in each are what make this movie special. Of course, what else is to be expected with that kind of cast. Ocean’s Eleven is a movie about a heist within a heist with a clever reveal that throws the audience for a loop all while some members of the eleven aren’t even aware of the entire plan. To pull off this plot line is impressive enough. However, to pull this off with as much charm and wit as Ocean’s Eleven did is something else entirely. Again, a cast like this certainly helps.
Without question, my favorite part about Ocean’s Eleven is the relationship between Danny (George Clooney) and Rusty (Brad Pitt). I definitely noticed it the first time I watched the movie, but I appreciate it more and more each time. The bond they share is the most organic type of relationship you could hope for. Relationships like that just kind of are. You don’t work hard to obtain them or even maintain them. They are born of similar-minded people experiencing life in a similar way together. Danny and Rusty literally have a conversation with one another without Rusty saying a word. But it was exactly that, a conversation. Not just Danny talking at Rusty. Danny understood how Rusty felt without Rusty even needing to say a single word. I have a few of these relationships; they are as great as they sound. Anyhow, successfully establishing this type of relationship between the two mainliest of the main characters opens up a type of freedom for the movie. It allows for these characters to have clever interactions that the audience gets to share in but the other characters on screen don’t fully understand (Danny and Rusty more or less conning Reuben into joining their crew comes to mind here). Other than just being plain fun, these interactions allow the plot to be as complex as it is. Because Danny and Rusty have this rapport, they are able to pull the heist within the heist and succeed at both.
As soon as Rusty saw Tess, he knew what this whole thing was about for Danny. Once the crew finds out that Danny has been put on the watch list for Terry Benedict’s hotels, Rusty tells Danny (in front of essentially the whole crew) that he is out. Danny acts shocked and offended that Rusty has had Linus follow him for the last couple days, then leaves. If you are a first-time viewer, then you likely believed the interaction to be genuine, as you were supposed to. It is not until later that the audience, and a very surprised Linus in an elevator, find out that this was exactly the plan. The plan had to work this way lest some or all of it not come to fruition. And the plan/plot line could not have played out this way had the relationship between Danny and Rusty not been previously established.
Even once the audience is told how Ocean’s eleven robbed Benedict, it still takes some time, thought, and maybe an additional viewing or two for the less clever of us (that’s me) to fully understand how they pulled it off. In a way, the plot line for the movie actually mirrors what the movie as a whole does. Now, clearly, the movie does not actually steal anything from us, but we do feel a bit bamboozled at the end of it. The mainliest of the characters have a plan to rob three casinos all at once. The rest of the crew think they know the whole plan, but are thrown for a loop near the end with Danny’s secondary plan to get Tess back. Similarly, the audience is told of the plan to rob Benedict and is brought along for the ride, thinking we know everything. After all, we knew about Tess while the crew itself didn’t. However, we didn’t know that Rusty knew and was actually enabling Danny to help complete his plan. The last twenty minutes of the movie are also a complete surprise to us. Even if we didn’t know about Tess, we knew how they were going rob Benedict, right? We were there for everything. We watched them for two weeks. We watched the setup; we knew everyone’s role. The only piece we didn’t have was the final product, the actual robbery itself. But that was fine because we were going to watch as it happened. In reality, we were not much more in the know than Benedict himself. I’m willing to bet that Benedict figured it out himself before the majority of the viewers did. The “robbery” had already been performed; all that was left was for Ocean’s crew to walk out the front door with 160 million dollars. Oh, and for Tess to see the true Benedict. But we do not know any of this until it is explained to us. Despite some genius level observation and deduction, we would have no way of knowing this. Just as Ocean’s robbery had to be executed perfectly to be successful, so did the complex plot line in order to surprise the audience with the ending. It is an impressive enough feat as it is to successfully carry out this plot line, but it is even more so to do it with such charisma and allure.
My name is Chuck, and these are my thoughts. Now I would like to know what you think. Did you enjoy watching Pitt and Clooney act out the relationship of Danny and Rusty? Were you too surprised (and possibly confused) by the ending? Do you think that Danny’s personal heist adds or subtracts from the overall story? Leave a comment down below, and we’ll talk. Enjoy the day!
Next week: Jet Li’s Fearless