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‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and the Caper Crew Part II

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One moreDanny: Ten oughta do it, don’t you think?
Rusty: [Stares off in silence, not looking at Danny]
Danny: You think we need one more?
Rusty: [Silence]
Danny: You think we need one more.
Rusty: [Silence]
Danny: All right, we’ll get one more.
Rusty: [Blinks]

Continuing the exploration of how Caper Crew roles are filled in Ocean’s Eleven, the next category of roles fall under Thieving-Skills. Again, quoted text comes from See the first Caper Crew post here. See the post on the Caper structure here.

saulThe Conman: The guy who usually does most of the conning, acting and people manipulating using confidence tricks.

rustydoctorThere are multiple characters acting as Conmen. The first is Saul (Carl Reiner), who gains access to the vault by pretending to be an ultra-rich international arms dealer. He later fakes a heart attack allowing our second Conman, Rusty (Brad Pitt), to also gain access to the vault as a doctor. Frank (Bernie Mac) and Linus (Matt Damon) also act as Conmen through their faked argument between dealer and Nevada Gaming Commission Agent respectively, also gaining them access to the vault.

scott_caan_casey_affleck_ocean's_eleven_001The Distraction: This role has a lot of versatility in how it is achieved, but it just comes down to distracting the dupes while their pals run off with their money (or whatever it is). May be a Femme Fatale seductress, or a really loud obnoxious guy, or even a bomb specialist.

There are many distractions to pull off this impossible con. Twice Virgil (Casey Affleck) and Turk (Scott Caan) use their natural relationship – one of competition and immature fighting – to distract: the first when they plant balloons over the security camera, and the second when they gain access to the back room without a security card. Perhaps the most crucial Distraction is pulled by Danny (George Clooney), who appears to be a threat and so gets pulled off of the casino floor by Benedict (Andy Garcia) and put into a cameraless interrogation room. When it seems he has been in this room the whole night, he establishes his innocence via alibi of Benedict’s own devising. Basher’s (Don Cheadle) use of the EMP bomb and the subsequent loss of electricity throughout Las Vegas also acts as a distraction, though it enables them to get past security measures in the vault as well.

oceans11pub2The Burglar: May be a Classy Cat-Burglar or some other form of savvy-thief, they are the person who infiltrates and helps themselves to the goods. May also be a safe-cracker but that is becoming less common as technology develops and most locks are electronic, requiring the more tech-oriented roles instead.

Again, we have multiple characters filling the Burglar role, but the three main ones are Linus, Danny, and Yen (Shaobo Qin). During the burglary scene, all three are costumed in black with the necessary gadgetry to gain access to the vault and get back out with the bags o’ money. However, by the end, pretty much the whole team is required for the money’s extraction.

oceans11_02The Pickpocket: The guy who has the steadiest hands, performing any job that requires slight-of-hand stealing of security cards and the like. May be merged with one of the other Thieving roles, but if not then they may be a former Street Urchin.

Our established Pickpocket from his introduction is Linus, who is shown for the first time lifting a guys wallet on an L-train. Linus gets pulled into Danny’s plan when Danny plants (reverse-pickpockets) a card indicating a meeting. By our pickpocketing the Pickpocket, Danny gets Linus’s attention and respect. Danny uses his pickpocketing skills during the con to plant the cell phone on Tess which will enable them to control the line on which they talk to Benedict about the robbery taking place of his casino vault. Interestingly enough, there’s also some indication that Frank is a pickpocket, though we don’t see him use that skill during the con. As a casino dealer, he must be good with his hands and dexterous. He also talks at length to the car dealer who sells them their white vans about keeping his hands moisturized. Of course, smooth hands would be a requirement for a successful pickpocket.

turkThe Driver: He drives the getaway vehicle.

Virgil and Turk. Turk drives the getaway van both when they steal the EMP bomb from the lab and also when they leave the casino at the end. Virgil remote drives the decoy van at the end.

bruiserThe Muscle: The Brute or The Big Guy, he’s around to help with carrying heavy things, beating people up, acting as a bodyguard or being threatening and menacing.

Bruiser (Scott L. Schwartz) is the shown muscle of the group, but because Danny’s plan requires little violence, Bruiser plays a small role. He mock beats up Danny after Benedict contains Danny in the interrogation room. This is how Danny gets access to the vault and also maintains an alibi. Frank also uses some physical intimidation on the car dealer to procure the vans at a lower cost.

There are just two crew tropes left that Ocean’s Eleven uses: The New Kid and The Inside Man.

linusNEWThe New Kid: Basically an apprentice and New Meat. He’s new and is learning from everyone. He probably has his own specialized skills, pulled some small jobs with another crew, but either way he isn’t taken quite as seriously or respected as much as the other members of the crew.

There are only two characters who have never worked with Danny or Rusty before: Linus and Yen. However, Yen is such a practical role, he has near zero character development. Linus, then, is our true New Kid. Danny seeks him out after having worked with his father. Linus is on the fence about joining these guys until Reuben (Elliot Gould) gives him a Reuben-esque push:

Reuben: You’re Bobby Caldwell’s kid. From Chicago. It’s nice there, do you like it?
Linus: Yeah.
Reuben: That’s wonderful. Get in the goddamn house.

Note that the composition of the above shot places Linus opposite a mirror that breaks up the crew awaiting the plan. That dividing mirror tells us Linus is of two minds, attempting to decide if he’s in or if he’s out. Linus is also the one who has to prove himself to Danny and Rusty, especially after he endangers their getaway with the “pinch” and injures Yen in the process. His newness is played for a laugh when he’s preparing for his con as the Nevada Gaming Convention Agent and Rusty leaves Linus hanging on the most crucial of tips.

001OEL_Julia_Roberts_022The Inside Man: If The Conman isn’t acting as The Mole, then the team may have one of these. A guy who works for the people being robbed, assisting the robbers with codes or secrets or whatever it is they need to get in. May be an actual member of the crew from the start, recruited later, or be no longer working for them anymore.

There are two true Inside Men in Ocean’s Eleven, though only one is actually a man, and only one knows they’re part of the con. Bruiser is the classic Inside Man, allowing Danny access into the vent-work and pretending to beat him up to establish alibi. The more interesting example is Tess (Julia Roberts), who gets duped by the crew to get direct access to Benedict when Danny plants the phone on her.



Author: Erin Perry

I'm a high school English teacher specializing in AP Literature and Film Analysis. I'm interested in most things geeky, including superheroes, vampires, zombies, teen culture, postmodern philosophy, pop culture analysis, and combinations of the aforementioned. Follow me on Twitter @eriuperry.

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