You gotta be nuts, too. And you're gonna need a crew as nuts as you are!... Who do you got in mind?
This is the story of a crew of expert thieves as they prepare and execute multiple very difficult heists across several movies. It's called Ocean's Eleven because the leader's name is Danny Ocean, and there are eleven of them. Originally a remake of the 1960 film starring Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, it went on to displace the original and spawn two sequels, imaginatively titled Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen.
- The first film involves Danny, an ex-con fresh out of prison, approaching his buddy Rusty about performing a monumental heist. The goal? Rob the central vault of three casinos at the same time, during a boxing match so that the grand total in the safe would be a little over 160 million dollars. They gather the Eleven and come to learn that the man they are robbing, Terry Benedict, is a man whose principal crime seems to be that he's dating Danny's ex-wife Tess.
- The second film deals with repercussions of their heist, as Benedict tracks down the Eleven and demands recompense in full, plus interest. Seeing as almost none of the eleven were frugal with their money, this means they have to find some other heist that will pay off an equal amount. Because they are too well known in the US, they travel to Europe and receive an offer from a legendary retired Con Man in which they steal a very famous MacGuffin. They are hounded on one side by a cocky acrobat-thief who wants the same loot, and a Fair Cop Interpol agent on the other.
- The third is Best Served Cold: a member of the Eleven is double-crossed by an unscrupulous land-owner, Willy Bank (Al Pacino), with whom he was collaborating on the opening of a new casino. Danny convenes his gang to ruin this casino's opening night. This time Benedict joins forces with them, as he has his own issues with Bank.
Each film is not intended as anything other than sheer popcorn fun. Planning out the heists is entertaining, but it is mostly an excuse to get an All-Star Cast together and have them bounce lines off of each other. This was very much the only real purpose of the original film as well, having the Rat Pack get together and look cool.
The crew consist of:
- Danny Ocean (George Clooney): The gang's mastermind, Ocean knows everything about Vegas and nearly everyone in it. His plan in the first film is to rob the casinos to take revenge on the guy who stole The Chick from him.
- Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt): Ocean's level-headed right-hand man. A jack-of-all-trades, he plays a number of roles in the heists themselves. A running gag is that he is almost always snacking on something, showing his nonchalance.
- Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould): A crooked venture capitalist and ex-casino owner who loves Vegas and its charms, he joins the gang as their financial backer to get revenge on Benedict for some past business deals. It is he who invests in Bank's casino in the third movie.
- Frank Catton (Bernie Mac): A con artist who frequently plays the inside man. In the first heist, he works as a croupier in one of the marked casinos.
- Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle): A Cockney engineer, Basher is in charge of the heavy machinery involved in the heists. He speaks in an impenetrable combination of Cockney slang and technical jargon.
- Livingston Dell (Eddie Jemison): A tech expert who specializes in electronics and communications. Neurotic and soft-spoken, he's more comfortable with machines than people.
- Virgil and Turk Malloy (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan): A pair of bickering twins from Utah who do all the simple grunt work, but especially act as the wheel men.
- Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner): A cranky old-school con artist, Bloom would rather be enjoying a comfortable retirement than having to pull off one more crazy heist.
- The Amazing Yen (Shaobo Qin): The grease man, Yen is a Chinese acrobat who is in charge of all the dangerous physical stunts. He speaks entirely in Mandarin except when he curses, but appears to understand English well enough. In the first film, Rusty can understand him perfectly, and eventually so can the rest of the gang, but they never speak Mandarin back to him.
- Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon): A skilled pickpocket and Ocean's new protege. Linus comes from underworld royalty, as both of his parents are famous thieves. He desperately seeks to earn some respect of his own by pulling off big scores.
Also appearing as main roles:
- Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia): The Big Bad of the first film, owner of the Bellagio, MGM Grand and the Mirage, three of the biggest casinos in Vegas. He provides the impetus for the second film by tracking down the Eleven and demanding repayment (with interest), and later becomes an ad hoc member of the Thirteen, both as a financial backer and The Shill.
- Tess Ocean (Julia Roberts): The Chick. Ex-wife of Danny Ocean, who by the first film has shacked up with Benedict. She's the main reason why Danny decides to rob Benedict's casinos. She becomes a member of the Twelve after most of the main crew are jailed during a failed heist; the attempt to complete it involves Tess impersonating Julia Roberts.
- Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones): a Fair Cop who is introduced in the second film. She has been hunting down a master criminal, Gaspar LeMarque, for many years, unaware that he is her father. As LeMarque is the person Ocean's Twelve are stealing the MacGuffin for, she ends up pursuing them as well. Also, Rusty's former love interest.
- François Toulour (Vincent Cassel): Also known as "The Night Fox," a truly accomplished thief who serves as a one-man Goldfish Poop Gang in the second film. Is also hired by Benedict in the third film to perform a double-cross.
- Roman Nagel (Eddie Izzard): A genius inventor who appears briefly in the second film and later becomes a member of the Thirteen.
- Willie Bank (Al Pacino): the Big Bad of the third movie, a Jerkass business mogul who partners with Reuben to build a new hotel casino, only to muscle him out of his share. Reuben suffers a heart attack as a result, prompting the rest of the crew to take revenge.
- Abigail Sponder (Ellen Barkin): Bank's Dragon and personal assistant. She's the one who's really in control of everything at his casinos.
- Actor Allusion: Quite a few:
- George Clooney talking to other young actors about the risks of going from TV to film in Eleven
- Julia Roberts having to pose as (and talk to) Julia Roberts in Twelve
- In Matt Damon's first scene in Thirteen he's in a foreign country and filmed in blue-tinted, washed-out Jittercam
- Brad Pitt being told to settle down and have some kids in Thirteen [context?]
- George Clooney being told to lose weight (he had gained a lot for Syriana) in Thirteen
- Danny delivers this gem to Bank (Al Pacino):
What I want; what's most important to me is that Reuben gets his share of the hotel restored.
- Actor Existence Failure: George Clooney is on the record as stating there will never be another Ocean's movie since Bernie Mac has died. (Not that another is needed, but still.)
- Acceptable Targets: In-Universe:
"C'mon, we can beat this guy -- he's rich and he's French."
- Affably Evil: Terry Benedict is unfailingly polite to everyone, though he's never actually friendly with anyone.
- All-Star Cast
- As Himself: Bruce Willis is the key to unraveling the Julia Roberts impersonation in the second film. (And, just to throw a wrench through the fourth wall, the credits end with, "And Starring: Tess Ocean as Julia Roberts.")
- Ambiguously Gay: Reuben
- And Starring: Parodied
- Avengers Assemble
- Badass Family: The Caldwells -- Linus' mom and dad are legendary thieves themselves and save the day in Twelve and Thirteen, respectively.
- Bavarian Fire Drill
- Brick Joke:
- The Oprah Winfrey Show in Thirteen.
- While discussing the plans to torment the hotel reviewer, Saul is asked if he'd go through that suffering for ten million. He says no, but he'd do it for eleven million. Guess how much money the hotel reviewer wins at the very end of the movie.
- Butt Monkey: Linus
- The poor hotel reviewer in Thirteen, played by David Paymer. The crew makes his stay a living hell in order to sink Bank's reputation; Rusty makes it worth his while in the end.
- The Cameo:
- Producer Jerry Weintraub as Denny the whale. First appears as a high-roller in Eleven, accidentally gets the guys in trouble with his bragging in Twelve and helps them out as an apology in thirteen.
- The young 20-something actors in Eleven: (Barry Watson, Topher Grace, Holly Marie Combs, Shane West, and Joshua Jackson), all of whom are terrible at poker. Grace appears again in Twelve.
- Oprah Winfrey in Thirteen, who is the source of a pretty darn good Brick Joke at the expense of Benedict.
- The Caper
- Caper Crew
- Caper Rationalization: If there is one trope that drives the plot of these films other than The Caper, it's Caper Rationalization. This merry band of crooks all have very good, reasonable, and understandable reasons for ripping people off for tens of millions of dollars per movie.
- The Cast Showoff: Vincent Cassel is a fantastic dancer. So is François Toulour.
- Celebrity Paradox/Your Costume Needs Work: Tess, played by Julia Roberts, impersonates Julia Roberts -- badly -- to pull off the heist in Twelve.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys/Those Wacky Nazis: When Reuben (who's Jewish) is describing why it's impossible to rob a casino.
Reuben: They've got enough armed personnel to occupy Paris! ...okay, bad example.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- In Eleven, the pine tree air freshener.
- in Twelve, it's the black backpack.
- Chekhov's Skill: In Eleven, Virgil and his remote-controlled cars.
- The Chew Toy: The hotel reviewer in Thirteen that gets put through hell secretly by the crew so he would give Bank's new hotel a bad review. They make it up to him afterwards.
- Christmas Cake: Abigail Sponder, Bank's personal assistant, in Thirteen
- Con Men Hate Guns: Linus chastises the Night Fox for being so crude as to use a gun in 13. The Night Fox leaves it unloaded as a concession to the trope.
- Conspicuous CG: In one scene, the statues in the art museum in Twelve.
- Description Cut: When Danny and Rusty go to recruit Livingston:
Danny: How are his nerves?
Rusty: OK. Not so bad that you'll notice.
- cut to Livingston being a neurotic, skittish control freak while working surveillance with the FBI*
- Did Not Do the Research: In the third film, two massive tunnel boring machines are used to simulate an earthquake in Bank's casino. They're alleged to be responsible for the Channel Tunnel -- the second is even captioned as "the one that dug from the French side" -- but the "Chunnel" was actually dug using eleven such machines, and most of them are still under the English Channel, sealed into cul-de-sacs alongside the transport lines. Another was auctioned off on eBay.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Benedict is feared because of his tendency to completely destroy the livelihoods of anybody who wrongs him, and everybody related to them as well. While doing recon on him, Linus informs Rusty that Benedict not only had the last guy who cheated in his casino put away for ten years, but he also had the bank seize the guy's house before bankrupting the tractor dealership of the guy's brother-in-law. As Reuben describes Benedict;
Reuben: He'll kill you, and then he'll go to work on you.
- Dolled-Up Installment: Twelve started out life as a stand-alone heist flick about two dueling master thieves, and was turned into an Ocean's installment when the first film's massive popularity required a sequel as quick as possible. The role of the protagonist was split between Danny (master thief), Rusty (relationship with Europol agent), and (to a certain extent) Linus.
- DVD Commentary: On the director and writer track for Ocean's Eleven, they comment a few times on the fact that there are probably only three people who bother to listen to these things.
- Dueling Stars Movie: In both the original Rat Pack and modern versions.
- The End - or Is It?: The end of the first movie leaves it open as to whether the crew is really safe from Benedict's retaliation. Turns out, they're not.
- Enemy Mine: In Thirteen Benedict joins the crew in taking down Bank because Bank is an annoying rival.
- Evilly Affable: Willy Bank in Thirteen, especially when he's muscling Reuben out of his share of the casino.
Reuben: [sarcastically] You gonna throw me off the roof now?
Bank: I don't want to.
- Fake Brit: American Don Cheadle as Cockney Basher Tarr. No audience member has yet been fooled.
- Failsafe Failure: Subverted in Thirteen, where the team finds out that the Greco security system automatically shuts down and reboots when it detects a threat to itself, and a side effect of the reboot is that it locks down the control room and cuts off communications for several minutes. They use this to lock Bank inside his own control room, leaving him unable to stop the team's plans.
- Fallen-On-Hard-Times Job: Several members of all the teams are stuck here at the movies' beginnings.
- Fixing the Game: These are heist films, but some of the protagonists get side jobs as cheaters. Danny finds Rusty running a bent card game for Flash In The Pan teen beat celebs in the first film.
- Gambit Roulette
- Gilligan Cut: In Eleven.
Rusty: I wonder what Reuben will say.
Reuben: You're outta your God damn minds!
- Give Me Back My Wallet
- Good for Bad:
- Twelve had them intend to do this to the Coronation Egg before Toulour stole it, and failed, except not. They actually did it en-route to the museum.
- Played with in Thirteen, where Linus swapped the Five Diamond awards for fakes, only to have Toulour steal them from him. He actually didn't. He had been there to plant bombs around the case so the entire thing could be stolen. Toulour actually stole the fakes. Again.
- Grand Staircase Entrance: Tess in the first film.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Danny and Rusty
- Hey, Wait!
- Hollywood Law: Especially in the first film, there is a fictitious Nevada Gaming Commission law stipulating that casinos in the state are required to hold a minimum amount of cash on the premises, in the event that a high-roller strikes the grand jackpot. Not surprisingly, the title characters hatch a plan to exploit this.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Linus's patents
- Hypocritical Humor: Twelve: "Tell him having a sexy assistant is cliche." (Speaker's sexy assistant enters).
- The Infiltration: Eleven involves an intricate plan which requires numerous small infiltrations of the casino all in order to carry out the biggest infiltration at the end.
- Involuntary Charity Donation: As payback for an attempted double-cross by Benedict in Ocean's Thirteen, the crew donates his entire share of the profits to charity. The film ends with Danny, Rusty, and Linus watching Benedict talk to Oprah about his sudden burst of generosity.
- It's Personal: The motivation for the plot of the third film.
- I think you can consider part of the plot from Twelve -- Benedict was going after each, and you can't tell me that blowing up Rusty's favorite car wasn't personal.
- File Eleven under it as well. Even Danny doesn't deny that Benedict's relationship with Tess is part of his motivation.
- "I Know What We Can Do!" Cut: All of the group's planning is done like this.
- Karmic Thief: The team targets two unscrupulous casino owners and a thief.
- Kick the Dog: In Thirteen Bank's first moment comes when he reveals he's screwing Reuben out of his share of the casino. He has plenty more throughout the movie. For example, his right-hand-woman, Abigail Sponder, manages to secure a mobile phone Bank wanted. She shows real delight in being able to get it for him, and sends it to him along with a note saying that it's a thank-you present for all the opportunities he's given her. He starts reading the note and rips it in half, obviously bored. He later fires a waitress for gaining 4 pounds between body checks.
- The Lancer: Rusty to Danny.
- Large Ham:
- Andy Garcia is lucky he didn't chip a tooth on the scenes set in a vault.
- Al Pacino, the Big Bad of the third movie, is a semi-large ham.
- Basher while impersonating the American stunt man in the third movie.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Seems to befall everyone who tries to pull one over on Danny.
- Leno Device: Terry Benedict appears on "Oprah" at the end of Thirteen.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: It's right in the title, even!
- Lost in Transmission: Virtually the canonical example:
Linus: (receiving instruction)
Rusty: ...Don't use three words when one will do; don't shift your eyes. Look always at your mark, but don't stare. Be specific but not memorable; be funny but don't make him laugh. He's gotta like you, and then forget you the moment you've left his sight. And for God's sake, whatever you do, don't, under any circumstances --
Livingston: (off screen) Rust, can you come here a sec?
Rusty: Sure thing. (leaves)
- That section is also a pretty awesome Shout-Out to Hamlet's advice to the players.
- Lovable Rogue: An entire crew of them
- A MacGuffin Full of Money
- Male Gaze: In Thirteen the camera is almost always in position to get a good view of Sponder's cleavage.
- Meaningful Name: Willy Bank
- Meganekko: Sponder
- Mission Control: Livingston Dell. Danny Ocean too, supposedly, but it didn't quite turn out that way.
- Mock Millionaire
- Model Planning: In the first movie, they build an exact replica of the vault they're robbing, to practice. And then to use as a crucial component in the actual caper.
- Money to Burn: Happens here too, but rather than inside a casket in an oven, it happens during a shootout when it gets caught in the crossfire courtesy of a flamethrower.
- Motive Rant
Rusty: I need a reason. And don't say money. Why do this?
Danny: Why not do it? I just left the joint after losing four years of my life and you're cold-decking Teen Beat cover boys. Because the house always wins. Play long enough, the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes, you bet big, and then you take the house.
Rusty: ...Been practicing that speech, haven't you?
Danny: Little bit. Did I rush it? I felt like I rushed it.
Rusty: No, it's good, I liked it. Teen Beat thing was harsh.
- Mythology Gag: The scene where the shootout leads to half of Danny's loot being torched by a flamethrower is almost certain homage to the climax of the original, where Ocean's loot is burned with Bergdorf's body.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Linus' stunt during the theft of the pinch leads directly to Yen's hand getting broken.
- Nice to the Waiter: Benedict. Rusty notes that he knows the names of most all of his employees, and we hear him asking about their personal lives as he enters the casino. This is part of Benedict's need to be knowledgeable about everything and everyone associated with his casinos.
- Noodle Implements: The various characters and scenarios Rusty forsees needing for the job in Eleven. A little research can explain these terms.
Rusty: Off the top of my head, I'd say you're looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever.
Reuben Tishkoff: Look, we all go way back and uh, I owe you from the thing with the guy in the place and I'll never forget it.
Danny Ocean: That was our pleasure.
Rusty Ryan: I'd never been to Belize.
- No Endor Holocaust: Just think about what shutting off all electricity in Las Vegas for 30 seconds would do. Think about people with pacemakers, think about cars that crash in the sudden darkness.
- Not just that, but an EMP would not just shut off the power for thirty seconds, it would destroy the power source and shut off the power permanently.
- The Nondescript
- No Name Given: The hotel reviewer in Thirteen. He's credited only as "The V.U.P.", which he sarcastically calls himself at one point.
- The Notable Numeral
- Numbered Sequels: Twelve and Thirteen
- Obstacle Exposition
- One Head Taller: Linus' dad and Linus to his mom.
- The Perfect Crime: Theme of all three films.
- Plot Hole: In Ocean's Eleven, The bags of hooker fliers appear in the vault elevator without anyone carrying them in.
- Precision F-Strike Some of Yen's only dialogue in English.
- Also the final conversation with Benedict in Ocean's 13
Terry Benedict: You think this is funny?
Danny Ocean: Well, Terry, it sure as shit ain't sad.
- Reuben gets one as well early in Eleven, noting that even if somehow Danny and Rusty were able to get into the vault and walk out with $100+ million, "you're still in the middle of the fucking desert!"
- Production Posse
- Pseudo Crisis
- Put on a Bus: Tess and Isabel simply aren't included in the third film, though at least Danny gives a Hand Wave to the fact that he kept them out of it on purpose
- The Remake: Only the first one.
- Running Gag: Rusty is eating something almost every time he's on screen. Pitt said the idea behind this was that Rusty was so busy he didn't have time to eat otherwise.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections:
Willie Bank: This town might have changed, but not me. I know people highly invested in my survival, and they are people who really know how to hurt in ways you can't even imagine.
Danny Ocean: Well, I know all the guys that you'd hire to come after me, and they like me better than you.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Willie Bank's belief that his riches allow him to go against the code amongst guys who "shook Sinatra's hand", thus giving Reuben a heart-attack, are what sets of the plot of the third movie.
- Sequel Goes Foreign: Ocean's Twelve went to Europe, justified by the title gang being too high profile to work in the USA without raising alarms (Not that it stopped them in Ocean's Thirteen).
- Setting Update: The original was made in, and set in, The Sixties.
- Shout-Out: In the elevator, Linus hits the floor buttons 1, 1, 3, and 8
- Squick: Used In-universe in Eleven, Rusty gets a case of this when he pays off the stripper for getting him the keycard for Benedict's casino.
Rusty Ryan: Thanks. Say hi to your mother for me.
Stripper: Say it yourself. She's on in five minutes. (leaves)
Rusty Ryan: (Beat) (pulls face, leaves)
- Slow Electricity: In the remake, when they use the EMP, there is the obligatory shot of the lights going out block by block.
- Specs of Awesome: Basher
- Stolen MacGuffin Reveal: In 12, the Egg was stolen before the events of the movie, and the whole movie was a plot to return the original.
- Take That: Terry's sarcastic advice to not pay cash for an expensive Newport Beach sports car is undoubtedly a dig at Kevyn Wynn's kidnappers.
- Theme Naming:
- Thirty Second Blackout: With the excuse that Applied Phlebotinum did it... and with predictable consequences inside the casino.
- Throw It In: The Running Gag of Rusty eating something during a scene came from Brad Pitt's penchant to eat close to shooting rather than on breaks, so Steven Soderbergh decided to just let him eat on-camera.
- Title Drop Happens one film too late:
Benedict: Apparently, I'm not the only one looking for Ocean's Eleven.
- Title In: Played with for shits and giggles in all three films.
- Trojan Horse: A very elaborate one. See below.
- True Companions: What drives the crew to avenge Reuben when he's betrayed by Bank in the third film.
- The Unintelligible: Yen, who mostly speaks rapid-fire Chinese. The only words he ever says in English are "where the FUCK you been?" and "shit."
- Unwinnable Training Simulation: A trial run of the burglary.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: If you don't pay attention (and sometimes even if you do) you probably won't understand what exactly the gang is doing for what reason.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Danny takes what would have been Terry's take from the Thirteen plot and donates it (in his name) to a children's charity sponsored by Oprah, leaving Terry with no choice but to go on her show and publicly accept her gratitude for his "selfless act."
- Waistcoat of Style: Terry's is antique kimono fabric.
- Xanatos Gambit: A classic version in the second film. The heroes had won the contest before the heist even started. Everything else was just window dressing.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: The team has to do this at least once in all three films when something doesn't go according to plan.
- X Called. They Want Their Y Back.: Danny's response to Rusty's snark about his clothes as he's leaving prison for the second time.
Rusty: I hope you were the groom.
Danny: Ted Nugent called. He wants his shirt back.
- Actually the obi, the thick "belt" that goes around the waist.