All the reasons that I didn’t like the first two
installments in the Ocean’s series were the elements that worked for me this
time around. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because my tastes have changed over
the years or I’ve gone soft, or something else has happened. But I was genuinely surprised by how much I
liked Ocean’s Thirteen.
This is essentially the same film as the first two. Get 13 of Hollywood’s elite leading men
together, give them a lot of money to make a stylish buddy/caper movie and then
as an added incentive let them do it Vegas. It’s money in the bank.
I found it hard to connect with the first two Ocean’s films
because it just seemed like a bunch of pretty rich boys smiling and winking at
the audience, saying "Hey, look at us, we’re rich, beautiful, having a
blast with our jobs, just love us."
And oh yeah, "We’re roguish con men and thieves." Um, yeah.
Their world was so far apart from mine that I was more envious than able
to connect with them. Not only that, but
as a general rule I’m not a fan of the caper film. What makes Ocean’s Thirteen
work is, there’s more heart in the film this time. No substance, but it at least has heart.
The boys (and I’m not
going to name this entire cast), Billy Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) bring the gang together
again to avenge the betrayal of their mentor, Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) who got taken in
business deal by Hotel Executive Willie Bank (Al Pacino). All of this wouldn’t
have been so bad, but there’s code amongst thieves, especially thieves who
shake hands with Frank Sinatra. So before Ocean goes into action he offers Bank
a "Billy Martin" which was give back what he took from Reuben and all
will be forgiven. We wouldn’t have a
movie in Banks took the deal.
Ocean and his gang cook up a complex 3 part scheme that will
1) Bankrupt the hotel, 2) Hit at Bank’s ego by denying him another perfect 5
diamond rating and 3) steal his other diamond awards. Along for the ride are Linus Caldwell/Lenny
Pepperidge (Matt Damon), Basher
Tarr/Fender Roads (Don Cheadle)
and Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia)
who has a personal score to settle with Banks so he and Ocean call a temporary
The movie spends too much time on point 2 and not enough on
the primary goal of breaking "The Bank." And there is some silly side
trip to Mexico that could have been cut out of the film entirely.
While this film features a cast of "thousands,"
this is really Clooney’s movie. He exudes charm and style you can easily see
why all of these guys would follow up. And I’m not talking just about the
characters they play in the film. But you can just tell that these guys have a
genuine affection for one another and that translates well on film. I mean this film really isn’t about
"acting," it’s about these guys getting together, having fun and
chewing scenery. No one does it better than these guys. Most of the screen time is taken up with
Cloony, Damon, Cheadle, Pacino, Ellen Barkin and Pitt. Everyone else do what
amount to glorified cameos.
Yeah there is a director, Steven Soderbergh, but it feels like
all he did was park a camera and say action.
There’s no signature "style," here other than the
"glitz" of Vegas and even that looked bland and drab. I don’t know
what the budget was for this installment, but it didn’t look like it was used
on the film – maybe catering, salaries and gambling money, but certainly not
set design or cinematography. The Bank hotel is supposed to be this modern
dream hotel and it looked hideous on the outside and the inside didn’t look any
better than a Holiday Inn.
I walked in expecting to come away ambivalent but was
pleasantly surprised. It’s a fun two hours.
Final Grade B-
EM Review by