Ocean’s 13: Easy, Breezy Caper Flick Is Smooth And Stylish – And Great Fun!

After the inexcusably smug and self-referential [i]Ocean’s Twelve[/i], one might have been forgiven for thinking that another sequel might just be a bad idea. Instead, with its cornucopia of star power and more than just a little something to prove, Steven Soderberg’s [i]Ocean’s 13[/i] is as smooth as a vodka martini and as stylish as a second millennium Beau Brummel…

Legendary Vegas entrepreneur Reuben Tishkoff [Elliot Gould] thought he was on his way back. His deal with Willy Bank [Al Pacino] would result in the biggest and best casino/hotel/shopping complex in town, and things would be great! Unfortunately, Bank – a notoriously evil individual – swindled Reuben out of his share and the ensuing shock put him in bed, in a semi-comatose state.

Enter Danny Ocean [George Clooney] and Rusty Ryan [Brad Pitt]. Gathering together their crew, the two vow vengeance – not just vengeance, but a singularly appropriate vengeance [mere death being too good for the man who broke the code that exists between men who have shaken Sinatra’s hand!]…

When The Bank opens, Bank expects to get yet another Five Diamond rating and turn profits of over half-a-billion dollars per day. What Danny Proposes, is to fix the entire casino [dice, blackjack, roulette] so that everyone but the house wins. He even has a plan to disrupt the casino’s ultra-high-tech security system.

Naturally, things don’t proceed quite according to plan and Danny has to enlist his first victim, Terry Benedict [Andy Garcia] in an enemy-of-my-enemy kind of situation. The hitch is that Benedict requires more than just shafting the casino for a half-billion dollars. He also wants Danny’s crew to steal the diamond necklaces that came with Bank’s previous Five Diamond Ratings – something that is quite beyond their skills.

[b]Ocean’s 13[/b] moves along at a slightly better than leisurely pace. Since we know the good guys are going to come out victorious, we’re here more for the suavity and star power. If not all the parts of Danny’s plan seem plausible, we take them in stride, with a wink and a nudge. Like the original Rat Pack, the latter-day Ocean crew is all about chemistry, style and goofin’…

Soderberg, we can tell, doesn’t put any less of his craft into these caper flicks than he does in his serious films. Indeed, his use of primary colors at certain points remind of other directors who’ve influenced him, and his ingenuity at finding just exactly the right odd angle, or the best use of light is as good as it’s ever been. His camera work is exceptional [he did his own cinematography under a pseudonym].

The script is as loosey-goosey as the casual attitude of the players. Even if not everyone is used to full potential [like Don Cheadle, Shaobo Qin, Scott Caan and Casey Affleck, for instance], everyone gets a brief turn upon screen and the result is almost more fun than anyone should expect in a second sequel. Even the music – from a truly demented arrangement of Caravan, to a sprinkling of Tomita’s electronic Claire de Lune – is as breezy and easy to take as the performances.

It’s great to see Clooney and Pitt, especially, sauntering along, finishing each other’s sentence [at some points, one will start a sentence, the other will provide a section and the first will complete it – it’s magical to watch!]. As the film’s big guns, they carry the weight of the project [such as it is] effortlessly.

[b]Final Grade: A-[/b]

EM Rview by Sheldon A. Wiebe
Originally posted 06/12/07

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