December 2001
Ocean's Eleven

Reviewed by Roslyn Bradford

Ocean's Eleven

Are you in or out? Fortunately for those of us who can’t get enough of these two talented actors, Producer Jerry Weintraub (Nashville, Diner, Karate Kid) and Director Steve Soderbergh (Sex, Lies & Videotape, Erin Brockovich, Traffic) saw fit to include Don Cheadle and Bernie Mac in their star-studded Warner Bros. remake starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. The 2001 version of “Ocean’s Eleven” is considerably more coherent than the original 1960’s brat pack flick with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., and the presence of Cheadle and Mac gives “Ocean’s Eleven” a splash of flava that rejuvenates a sometimes sluggish plot.

As one of the eleven con artists/criminals hand-picked by parolee Danny Ocean (played by Clooney) to assist him in an elaborate casino heist, Don Cheadle is explosives expert, Basher Tarr, whose job is to take out the power in Las Vegas for a limited period of time. Consistent with his modus operandi of stealing scenes, Cheadle again delivers a solid performance as a rebellious Cockney recruited to help pilfer $150 million from casino owner Terry Benedict (played by Andy Garcia). Having worked with Clooney and Soderbergh previously in “Out of Sight,” and most recently with Soderbergh in “Traffic,” Cheadle continues to amass critical acclaim as one of today’s premier character actors in hit movies such as “Rush Hour 2,” “Swordfish,” “Bulworth,” “Boogie Nights,” and “Rosewood.” But we will always love him for his amazing, underrated role as Mouse opposite Denzel Washington in Carl Franklin’s “Devil in a Blue Dress.” Is he due for a leading man role in a big budget Hollywood film? Long, long overdue. “I am always looking for a well-written story and a good script.” I’ve been talking with Steven [Soderbergh] about doing something in the jazz genre, Cheadle shared with We can’t wait.

And what more can you say about Bernie Mac, other than it has been some year for this actor-comedian who has been waiting in the wings to break into the national scene in a big way. In “Ocean’s Eleven,” Bernie Mac play Frank Catton, a card dealer in Atlantic City and Danny Oceans’s first recruit upon his parole from a New Jersey penitentiary. Without a doubt, Bernie delivers some of the funniest dialogue in the film, elevating his scenes beyond the words on the page. According to George Clooney, Bernie Mac is definitely a star on the rise. “I’d seen him in a couple of films and he was very, very funny. But this was an acting job. He had to play a character, and he had to play him straight yet still be funny. Bernie came in and he knocked this role out of the park. He is this incredibly talented actor who looks you straight in the eyes and makes you howl. Apparently, Bernie also gained a new fan in Oscar winner Julia Roberts. When we asked her which one of her eleven sexy, talented co-stars would she ask to help her move, she unequivocally stated “Bernie, Bernie Mac. If you’re a Bernie Mac fan, do not miss his new self-titled sitcom on Fox, Wednesday nights at 9:00 pm It is by far the best new comedy on television and will bowl you over with its wit, candor, and honest portrayal of affluent Black folks who have not lost touch.

While “Ocean’s Eleven” is not particularly distinctive as a crime movie, especially given the glut of heist films released this year, the flick does deliver a hip, entertaining, popcorn movie free of gratuitous sex, language, and profanity. Steve Soderbergh fans will continue to admire his cinematic and editing touch, and with a testosterone-laden cast so sweet it could give a girl a toothache, “Ocean’s Eleven” is the perfect date movie for teenagers and adults alike. Check out for more info about this film.


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