In the opening scene of Ocean's Eleven, the prison authorities question the conman Ocean:

WOMAN 2: If released, is it likely you...would fall back into a similar pattern?

Ocean: She already left me once. I don't think she'll do it again just for kicks.

WOMAN 1: Mr. Ocean, what do you think you would do if released?

(Scene cuts to Ocean and a prison guard walking through the prison corridor. Ocean approaches the cell, collects the ring from the envelope, and exits the prison)

Why did the scene cut away without showing Ocean's reply?


3 Answers 3


The clip in question can be found here:

The scene is discontinued to allow the viewer to imagine all the witty ways that Ocean might reply to the question.

The story of the movie is about a heist, so it is rather obvious that Ocean will fall back into the same patterns again. The more interesting question is whether he is fully aware during the interview that this will happen. And if you notice his eye movement, you can see that he is definitely giving it some thought. He is definitely not as focused on his counterpart anymore and seems to be in a different world for a good few seconds. Is he thinking about his past heist? How he got caught? His Ex? His next coup? Or is he just fooling his audience?

Is he thinking about going back to his criminal life? Back to his Ex? Or genuinely trying to be an upstanding citizen? Can you tell?

Brief seconds later he snaps back and focuses on the parole hearing again (and looks directly into the camera). He is calm, cool collected, fully within his element of a con.

Being a true conman, he manages to fool even the very people whose job it is to judge whether he is fit for a civil lifestyle or a notorious criminal. It doesn't matter how he does it. What matters is how easy it is for him.

  • "And if you notice his eye movement, you can see that he is definitely giving it some thought. He is definitely not as focused on his counterpart anymore and seems to be in a different world for a good few seconds". Disagree - yes you see his eyes move, but he's briefly looking back at the first interviewer before switching back to the second. At 1:29 you can (just) see him moving his gaze from 1st to 2nd, when 2nd speaks for the first time in the scene.
    – AakashM
    Nov 30, 2020 at 13:50
  • 1
    @aakashm I considered it. But they would be sitting an aweful lot apart from each other for non-covid times. And in the end he makes eye contact with the movie audience, while before he seems unfocused. Additionally, he always moves his head towards the counterpart, when he is actively talking/looking to/at them. In the eye-movement part, he is only moving his eyes. You could even argue that they tilt slightly up, indicating inward thinking.
    – BestGuess
    Nov 30, 2020 at 14:28
  • 21
    Not only does it free the viewer to imagine a witty reply, it frees the writer from having to be as witty as Ocean :)
    – chepner
    Nov 30, 2020 at 22:00
  • 2
    Any answer he could have given would be a boring lie designed to placate the parole board, and wouldn't serve the story. Better to just skip past it and get right into the action and see what he is really going to do.
    – Seth R
    Nov 30, 2020 at 22:22

For me, this is less a question of plot but of editing. To me the whole remaining movie is the answer to this very question.

Weak evidence from the scene: the camera moves to a closeup for this last question, possibly to increase tension. Then there's a one second of silence, giving us time to ponder the same question. And finally, music sets in leading to his release und thus setting in motion the events that lead to the heist.

  • 3
    lol this makes me think then that Ocean's 13 could have ended with a hard cut back to this scene and it was all a fantasy
    – NKCampbell
    Nov 30, 2020 at 18:03
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    @NKCampbell nice, I had not thought of interpreting the movie as the literal answer, but that's a nice read. Also, this could be a very blunt yet effective instrument to pivot into a soft reboot...
    – ojdo
    Nov 30, 2020 at 18:09
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    It's a fun idea, but when describing your future plans to a parole committee, you probably wouldn't mention the heist.
    – Sneftel
    Dec 1, 2020 at 15:41

Very simple, why would the filmmaker have the character explain what he’s about to do if they can instead show the character actually doing it? The opening scene has established everything the filmmaker wanted it to establish, now it has to segue into the real action. An off-screen “what would you do” question immediately followed by an hour-long direct response to it is as good a transition as any.

Of course, the character could have given an answer, and in a subsequent scene subverted the expectation to a comedic effect by doing the complete opposite, or exactly what was said but in an unexpected way, or something else along these lines. But that would have been a different film.


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