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Matt Damon's Linus in Oceanís 11, 12 and 13

Guest Author - Karen L Hardison

Matt Damonís characterization of Linus Caldwell in Oceanís Eleven is happily pretty hard to forget. Linus undergoes a metamorphosis, though, in Oceanís Twelve that remains prominent in Oceanís Thirteen. Was this metamorphosis a good change or a bad change?

First, what wasnít changed about Linus? In Oceanís Twelve Linus remains the gum chewer, albeit not as habitually. Perhaps director Steven Soderbergh felt that two jaws in perpetual motion was a bit much for one set of films. Two jaws, you ask? Of course you noticed Rusty and corn chips, Rusty and salad, Rusty and some frozen yellow and red thing, Rusty and shrimp cocktail, Rusty and nachos, Rusty and an upside down white plastic spoon, Rusty and a hamburgerÖ.

So what changed? Linus starts out in Chicago as a bold pick-pocket. At Rubenís house in Las Vegas, we learn that Linus has a streak of independence when he speaks up and calls the plan a ďsnatch and dash.Ē We later see that Linus isnít intimidated by experience when he replies to Rustyís question of ďScared?Ē with ďAre you suicidal?Ē roughly meaning, ďYouíre out of your mind if youíre not scared!Ē

Three more things we learn about Linus serve as the link between the Linus of Oceanís Eleven and the Linus of the sequels. Linus shows son-like deference to Danny first noticeable when Linus says ďWith youĒ in reply to Dannyís query of ďWhere are you going?Ē at the van on the way to collect the pinch. Linus uses the same open tone in the elevator shaft when he asks Danny what the argument with Rusty had been ďall about.Ē Danny doesnít answer because it was part of an elaborate con to get Linusówho lacks confidence, we discoveróto trigger the vault, which means to pick Benedictís pocket to get the six security codes.

These last traits, the deference, the openness, the lack of confidence are whatís played up and capitalized on in Oceanís Twelve and then again in Oceanís Thirteen. Instead of standing up to Rusty in Oceanís Twelve, Linus hesitatingly asks for his blessing on taking more of a leadership role. Also, Linus only chews gum when he is deftly and briskly pursuing an assignment, like when he switches the Faberge Egg for a replica on board the train.

The traits that would have made Linus a rival to Rusty and Danny are superseded in Oceanís Twelve--a characterization direction carried forward in Oceanís Thirteen--by the traits that make him require Rusty and Danny as mentors (ďWho do you go to when you need something?Ē ďRusty.Ē). Were the changes good?

The changes in Linusís characterization may have been considered necessary for the continuation of the Oceanís franchise. His metamorphosis keeps the gang all working together harmoniously, even if in a slightly discordant imbalance. Still, I miss the first Linus, and I suggest that the changes move Linus uncomfortably toward a stereotype.

so, was the metamorphosis a good change or a bad change? Whether you think the changes to Linus are good or slightly unfortunate, Damon's characterization of Linus--all of them--make Linus a Hollywood immortal, and the Oceanís movies are all good family fare, provided you can emphasize that in real life criminality should not be a goal and criminals should not be your best friends.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Karen L Hardison. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Karen L Hardison. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Angela K. Peterson for details.


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