Steven Soderbergh and friends take a working holiday in Las Vegas for this entertaining reworking of the Rat Pack’s heist comedy. George Clooney fills Sinatra’s shoes as Danny Ocean, the recently paroled con-man who assembles a motley crew to take down Andy Garcia’s ruthless casino owner while simultaneously nabbing his ex-wife (Julia Roberts) back from his clutches. Brad Pitt is the Dean Martin sidekick while Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, and Elliot Gould among a couple of others complete the rest of the gang. A party-mode Soderbergh unleashes every bit of his directorial panache to craft the entire affair into an interminably slick feast for the eyes and ears – with a production budget to match (not content with taking over actual casinos, they even staged a title fight between Wladimir Klitshcko and Lennox Lewis). Playing the coolest versions of themselves, the cast cruise their way through the complicated and very well executed heist in a manner befitting the project’s ambitions with David Holmes’ repetitive but impossibly suave compositions providing the most complementary soundtrack imaginable. If it sounds, like a “can’t-miss” type of movie, allay your excitement somewhat because, though eminently fun, its lack of depth ensures that it’s a little cold. In the final analysis, Ocean’s Eleven is what you get when a bunch of talented movie guys spitball a movie concept around a poker table at 3 am. Lots of well conceived but ultimately stand alone moments in desperate need of some serious screenwriting to bind them together.
Rating: The Good – 64.5 Genre: Adventure, Crime Duration: 110 mins Director: John Stockwell Stars: Paul Walker, Jessica Alba, Scott Caan
Loose remake of Peter Yates’ The Deep, Into the Blue is a thoroughly entertaining and gorgeously photographed underwater adventure. Paul Walker and Jessica Alba play two amateur prospectors who along with their friend (Scott Caan) discover a potentially valuable shipwreck while partying out on the water. Unfortunately, it’s beside a recently crashed plane which was carrying a local drug baron’s illicit cargo and that makes things a little tricky when it comes to salvaging the wreck.
The story is decent enough even if it does employ some broad strokes towards the end. However, it’s the chemistry between the three leads and some exceptionally well crafted underwater set-pieces which make this film work. Walker is decent-ish in the lead role if sometimes a little wooden but he works well off Alba, Caan and Ashley Scott (as Cann’s trouble-making girlfriend) who are all terrific fun in their own ways. Josh Brolin also makes an appearance as a hi-tech prospector who may or may not be trying to horn in on their find and, as usual, he steals the show whenever the camera is on him.
The luscious cinematography makes this a very easy film to sink into just like the warm Caribbean seas it’s photographing and John Stockwell (that guy who played Dennis in John Carpenter’s Christine) shows some real flair in the action stakes culminating in a nicely edited and staged finale. Given that it’s a remake of a decent thriller from the 70’s and it brazenly attempts to play to a young early-20’s/late teen generation, Into the Blue is exactly the type of film that usually ends in disaster – even if the box office does not reflect that. And with the goofiness of Walker’s acting, it, at times, feels like a guilty pleasure more than a film worth recommending. But the sense of fun and flashes of skill genuinely make it just that.