10 Best Things About the Ocean’s Franchise
People love to argue over Michael Jordan versus LeBron James. They are always debating who is the greatest basketball player of all time. The reason for this is that as a culture, we’re fascinated with the highest echelon of greatness; the best of the best; people operating at the highest level of their craft. That idea translates to film too—even in fiction, we love to watch masters at work. This is the principle that draws audiences to the Ocean’s franchise. Danny Ocean and his team are master thieves, carrying out heists which are intricate, inventive and exciting.
Steven Soderbergh’s vision to recreate the 1960 film starring the Rat Pack became something quite a bit bigger. Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels are beautiful, expensive films. Soderbergh’s continuing commitment to experimenting with his own craft protects the trilogy from getting stale as it goes on. The writing is clever, the performances are without flaw. They are riotously funny films that create an undeniably nice mood. It is like hanging out with your friends—if your friends were master thieves. They are engrossing but light fare, perfect for a summer movie, or for any time you want a film to welcome you with open arms.
Gary Ross’s spinoff film Ocean’s 8—while not as skillfully crafted or thoroughly written as its predecessors—because it leans into the idea of the Ocean’s franchise as hangout films. Below you’ll find a list of ten of the best things about the film series so far, but be warned—spoilers abound.
Con Artist Slang, Ocean’s Eleven to Ocean’s Thirteen (2001 to 2007)
Throughout the films, the main characters use a lot of terms that are hard to understand. For one, it protects the audience from knowing too much before they should, because not only does it sound cool, most of it actually makes meaningful reference to specific plot points. Most importantly though, it does indeed sound very cool: “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.”
Danny and Rusty, Ocean’s Eleven to Ocean’s Thirteen (2001 to 2007)
The relationship between Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his closest associate, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) is the emotional anchor of the original three movies. Even as the first film finds Ocean’s romantic life colliding with the task at hand, and ditto for Ryan’s in the sequel—the relationship between the two of them continues to feel like the focal point. Their chemistry is palpable. They are able to work off of one another in such a way that one gets the sense that Ocean’s movies might not be nearly as good with different casting in these roles.
The Malloy Brothers, Ocean’s Eleven to Ocean’s Thirteen (2001 to 2007)
The Malloy brothers, Turk (Scott Caan) and Virgil (Casey Affleck) were brought onto the team because they are both gearheads. They hurt the team about as much as they help them—to the chagrin of the characters around them but to the delight of the audience because their constant antics are a fountain of comedy in an already-very-funny franchise.
Rusty’s Constant Eating, Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Brad Pitt’s character Rusty Ryan is constantly eating—especially throughout the first film. The reason why? Simply because Pitt thought it would be funny. He’s right. There’s something quite funny about the repeated action of Rusty snacking on various treats in almost all of his scenes throughout the film.
Linus and Frank Fight, Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
In Ocean’s Eleven, it becomes necessary that the team lifts the security codes from their mark, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). So they send pickpocket specialist Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) and man-on-the-inside Frank Catton (Bernie Mac) to stage a bit of a show. Pretending to be an investigator, Linus “confronts” Frank in front of Terry. Things nearly come to blows and Terry doesn’t even notice he’s been pickpocketed. It’s a very funny interaction performed pitch-perfectly by Damon and Mac.
Julia Roberts Plays Herself, Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
In Ocean’s Twelve, things get pretty dire for the team. Most of them gets arrested on a botched museum heist, leaving only Turk, Linus and Basher. Linus convinces Danny’s wife Tess (Julia Roberts) to come to Europe to help them complete the task they failed to do earlier. The plan? Steal the target while Tess distracts patrons of the museum by pretending to be—that’s right—Julia Roberts. Whether it’s intentionally subversive or merely so lazy that it becomes subversive remains a debate. Either way though, it’s a hilarious plot point.
Willy Bank, Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
Some time in the 1990s or 2000s, Al Pacino became a spectacle. He was always an engrossing actor—but somewhere along the way, he began to become a parody of himself. For some films that might be tiresome, however in Ocean’s Thirteen, it works. His character Willy Bank is over-the-top in every way. He’s flashy and contemptible and watching his downfall is well worth the price of admission.
Basher Plays Fender Rhodes, Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
In Ocean’s Thirteen, when the FBI gives Willy Bank (Al Pacino) electronic dossiers on the whole team, Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle) is dispatched to distract him. He fills the role of Fender Rhodes, an Evel Knievel-style goofball stuntman in a red, white and blue jumpsuit. He busts through the door of Bank’s with a lot of dynamic movement and shouting, requesting that he get paid in cash. All the while, the Malloy brothers are hacking into Bank’s server so that they can alter the appearances in their dossiers so that Bank will not recognize them while they quietly rob him blind.
Daphne Kluger, Ocean’s 8 (2018)
Anne Hathaway steals the show in Ocean’s 8 as Daphne Kluger—a wealthy, beautiful actress. She starts out as the target of Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) and her crew—but once she gets wise to their scheme, she has to be brought into the fold to help them see through the heist. Hathaway leans into the campy, over-the-top diva performance and gives the funniest line deliveries of anyone in the film. Her role becomes a sort of meta-character or Greek chorus, commenting on elements of the plot as they unfold in front of her.
The Amazing Yen’s Cameo, Ocean’s 8 (2018)