by Aveline MacQuoid on March 13, 2021

in Extras

Which One of the 5 Ocean’s Movies Is Best?

When it comes to heist movies, you can’t get much better than the Ocean’s film franchise. Each entry in the series is jam-packed with a star-studded ensemble cast, from the glitzy Rat Pack era original, via Steven Soderbergh’s 00s trilogy to the all-female 2018 reboot. Everyone seems to have a favorite, but which one is the best objectively? Let’s find out – here, in ascending order, are the best Ocean’s movies.

Ocean’s 11 (1960)

It’s rare for the original film in any successful series to be the weakest of the lot, but the 1960 film Ocean’s 11 is just that. Despite it starring five of the Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop, the film feels flat and oddly disjointed. One explanation for this is that the cast filmed it in bits and pieces in between their heavy Las Vegas schedules. Nonetheless, Ocean’s 11 is an entertaining romp – better than its reputation would suggest – as we follow five World War Two veterans who set out on a New Year’s Eve heist to rob five Las Vegas casinos. The plan goes awry, and after the gang hides their pilfered money in the coffin of their electrician they see it go – quite literally – up in smoke, as it is cremated with him. A fun film, but the bottom of the pile in the series. 

Ocean’s 12 (2004)

Despite the all-star cast of Ocean’s 11 (the 2001 version) being further bolstered by the appearances of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bruce Willis, and French megastar Vincent Cassel, the second of Soderbergh’s Ocean’s movies falls a little flat. The pacing seems all wrong, and the high-class glamour of the first film seems lacking. After being tracked down by Terry Benedict, the victim of the first heist, the crew has to return the money, but come up with only half of it. And how do they raise the other half? You guessed it – another heist. This time the action takes place in Europe, starting in Amsterdam and progressing to Lake Como, as the gang tries to steal a Faberge Egg. Reviews were mixed – the film was criticized for its slow start, its complex plot, and a final twist that didn’t really work. The late, great Roger Ebert gave it a positive review, however, stating: “The movie is all about behavior, dialogue, star power, and wiseass in-jokes. I really sort of liked it.”

Ocean’s 8 (2018) 

After Ocean’s 13, Steven Soderbergh declared he would not direct the fourth installment, saying he ‘wanted to go out on top’. Fair enough, but there was still clamor for a fourth movie, which appeared in 2018 in the form of the all-star female cast Ocean’s 8

The ensemble is led by Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter, who play thieves intending to carry out a jewel heist at the Met Gala. Bullock plays Debbie Ocean – sister of the late Danny – leading the heist, and despite the plot twists and turns, the film falls slightly flat compared to the Soderbergh trilogy. However, it does have a ‘happy’ ending, with the robbers all starting new lives with their spoils. Not a bad film, but certainly not a great one either.

Ocean’s 13 (2007)

After the slight let down of 12, Ocean’s 13 proved to be a return to form for Soderbergh and a fitting end to his heist trilogy. Back in Vegas, Danny and the gang target the new hotel ‘The Bank’, whose owner Willy Bank has strong-armed Ocean and his friend Reuben Tishkoff out of. They have two objectives this time – firstly to prevent ‘The Bank’ from winning the prestigious Five Diamond award, and secondly to rig all of the casino’s games to pay out millions in winnings, thus ruining Willy Bank and forcing him to cede ownership of the hotel. The anonymous Diamond reviewer is kidnapped and replaced by a member of the team – though he does get compensated by playing a rigged slot machine to the tune of $11 million. If you want to try your luck (albeit for a slightly lower jackpot) you can play online pokies here. All in all, Ocean’s 13 is a twisting and turning heist movie and a great addition to the series.

Ocean’s 11 (2001)

It’s unusual for a remake to top the original, but that’s just what the first Soderbergh film in the series does. I’m getting bored of typing ‘all-star ensemble cast’, but there is literally no other way to describe it. Led by George Clooney, and bearing little resemblance to the 1960 original – aside from the casino heist – it somehow emits a timeless glamour and evokes the atmosphere of 1950s Las Vegas while still being very contemporary. The pulsating plot twists and turns, the action sequences are well thought out and executed, and the script crackles with humor the whole way through. A great movie, easily the best of the bunch.

So that’s the rundown of the Ocean’s films – while all are enjoyable on some level, there is really a gulf in class between the top and bottom of the list.

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