Ocean's Eleven (12)

Review by Jack Foley

THERE can be few safer bets in Hollywood than a cast including George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia and Matt Damon in a film directed by Traffic and Erin Brockovich helmer Steven Soderbergh.

So it will come as little surprise to hear that Ocean's Eleven, a super-cool remake of Frank Sinatra's original 'rat-pack' flick, delivers the goods in spades with plenty more to spare.

Stripped bare, Soderbergh's film is little more than a triumph of style over substance - the plot is unremarkable, featuring 11 guys who want to take down three Las Vegas casinos in one night - and there are few surprises along the way.

But the acclaimed director pulls off the ultimate card trick by dealing out a movie which delights in its simplicity, dazzles with its style and cashes in on the undeniable talents of its heavyweight A-list stars.

Clooney heads the cast as recently released convict Daniel Ocean, a man still smarting over the departure of his wife (Roberts), who plans to get even by robbing the three casinos owned by Garcia's Terry Benedict, his love rival.

Rounding up an elite crew of criminals - including Pitt's calculated point man, Don Cheadle's explosives expert, and Damon's promising rookie - Ocean sets up the ultimate heist while making his own play to win Roberts back.

And that's about as complex as it gets, suffice to say that there is the odd complication as well as an ending which, in my opinion, pays homage to another heist classic (though to reveal which one, may ruin the surprise).

Where Ocean's Eleven really pays dividends, however, is in its execution. After delivering the Oscar-laden double whammy of Traffic and Brockovich, Soderbergh here seems content to sit back and have fun, re-uniting with several of his favourite stars to deliver the type of film which evokes memories of star-laden classics such as The Magnificent Seven (Soderbergh, himself, confesses to a liking for Jaws).

The result is effortlessly cool, with Clooney and Pitt striking the type of chemistry which harks back to Newman and Redford in their heyday, Roberts providing further proof that she is at her best in the company of Soderbergh, despite a limited screen time, and Garcia back in typically suave mode - could this mark the start of a revival for an actor likened to a young Pacino during the early Nineties. The likes of Elliott Gould, Carl Reiner, Scott Caan and, of course, Damon and Cheadle also make their mark.

Script-wise, the movie positively crackles with energy, while David Holmes's soundtrack adds icing to a near-perfect cake. You've got to hand it to Soderbergh and Clooney , they are fast becoming the kings of the Hollywood pack.