Ocean’s Thirteen

starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Al Pacino
written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien and directed by Steven Soderbergh
rated PG-13 for brief sensuality.

A week later, as opportunity and finances permitted, I headed over to catch Ocean’s Thirteen. I really enjoy a good caper movie. The Sting is one of my favorite movies ever, and of course Ocean’s Eleven is excellent. Both of these are, I would say, great caper movies. Ocean’s Thirteen is merely good (better, however, than Ocean’s Twelve, which failed entirely to leave an impression).

Reuben (Elliott Gould) is getting old and, tired of pulling endless jobs, enters a partnership with Willy Banks (franchise newcomer Al Pacino) against the advice of his friend Danny Ocean (George Clooney). When Banks muscles him out of their casino deal, the shock and stress set off a nearly-fatal heart attack. As he recovers, Ocean summons the usual suspects to Las Vegas to ruin Banks’ grand opening.

The group has an awful lot of irons in the fire this time around, some more fantastical than others. They plan to fix every game in the house (blackjack, slots, craps, roulette . . . the works) so that Banks’ patrons walk out with an obscene amount of cash. They will ruin the stay of the prestigious hotel inspector, earning Banks a terrible review. They will cause an earthquake on opening night with a plan involving both drills used to dig the tunnel under the English Channel.

And, of course, each of these schemes involves untold substeps and complications. For instance, a sudden lack of funds prompts them to seek additional help from their old archnemesis (Andy Garcia). I don’t bother to look up his character’s name, although I don’t remember it, because it isn’t important. Really, none of the character names are important, only the actors that are playing them as ultra-cool versions of themselves.

This would quickly become tiresome if employed too often, I suppose, but there is something charmingly throwback about it all the same. After all, who can watch a classic film starring Gene Kelly, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, or (for that matter) Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and any other member of the original Rat Pack without being conscious of their larger-than-life personas?

As for the plot and the way in which it unfolds, yes, it is quite ridiculous and stretches the bounds of credulity. It almost has to in order to show us something we haven’t seen before, but in any case one will either succeed in suspending one’s disbelief or one will not. I had very little trouble doing so because I was so involved with trying to keep track of what was going on. This is a fun, mostly-smart thrill ride that works and entertains on its own terms.

Even those who enjoy Ocean’s Thirteen may not share this sentiment, but as I chuckled at the final scene I found myself openly hoping for yet another sequel. Not because the material itself is so deserving, but because the Ocean gang has taken on a life of its own and I would love to see them return to action again (and maybe even again and again, should they retain their especial quality).

~ by Jared on June 16, 2007.

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