To start with you’ve got a killer cast – George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, and Andy Garcia to name just a few.
It’s a glamorous setting – the casinos of Las Vegas, high stakes, everything to play for.
Then there is the clever scripting – the action moves swiftly along, events unfold and the sting unfolds before your eyes.
However this is also one of the challenges that I have with the movie – it can be a bit hard to follow. While it is easy to simply be awed by Danny Ocean’s cleverness and the way that they seem to be running rings around casino boss Terry Benedict, at the end of it you do kind of scratch your head and wonder – just exactly how did they rob the casino?
In this article I’m going to try and give a simple explanation of the steps that the gang took in order to get their hands on the cash.
The objective is to rob three casinos in one night – all the money from the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand are funnelled into one vault. Rob the vault and you get all the money.
Ocean puts together a gang of 11 – himself as boss; Dusty Ryan as his sidekick; Virgil and Turk Malloy as jacks-of-all-trades; Bashir Tarr as explosives expert; Linus Caldwell as a pickpocket; Saul Bloom as an impersonator; Frank Catton as the inside man; Yen as the contortionist; Livingston Dell as the technician; and Reuben Tishkoff as the money.
There is quite an extended set-up that involves the Malloy brothers sneaking the technician into a security room so he can tap all of the video feeds; Bloom impersonates a Russian dignitary so that he can arrange for a briefcase to be stored in the underground vault; Bashir secures a device that can render the city without power for about 30 seconds; and the Malloy brothers put Yen into a cashbox and arrange to have it delivered into the vault.
In order to access the vault, Caldwell double-teams with Catton to steal them from Benedict.
Ocean somehow escapes a beating by a security guard who helps him to climb up into the air-conditioning ducts of the casino. He meets up with Caldwell and they descend down the elevator shaft to the vault – evading laser sensors with the help of Bashir’s electricity blocking device.
They gas the guards protecting the vault, while inside Yen uses explosives to open the door.
This is where I kind of lose track of what’s going on. It seems that fake money was loaded into an escape van as a decoy, enabling a fake SWAT team (made up of Ocean’s gang) to go in and take out the actual money – fooling Benedict in the process.
Somehow Clooney gets back in time to where he was being supposedly held by Benedict’s security guards and is able to deny all knowledge while his gang successfully make off with the money.
This is definitely a movie that makes robbing casinos look incredibly complicated.