|Ocean's Thirteen (2007)
Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt
Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck,
Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould,
Ellen Barkin, Al
Pacino, David Paymer
Director: Steven Soderbergh
It’s tempting to say that story takes a back seat to action in “Ocean’s Thirteen,” but story would actually have to be in the same car as action in order for that to be possible. In truth, story is dragging behind the car like the dog in “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” and believe it or not, that is actually a good thing. After the self-indulgent “Ocean’s 12” – Julia Roberts playing someone that looks like Julia Roberts, lord help us – Clooney, Soderbergh & Co. definitely right the ship the third time around.
The story begins with patriarch Reuben (Elliott Gould) suffering a massive heart attack upon the discovery that his partner, hotel magnate Willie Bank (Al Pacino), is royally screwing him out of a lucrative payday when Willie opens his new hotel on the Vegas strip. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) suffers the slight to his mentor poorly, and after a fruitless attempt to get Bank to do the right thing, Danny assembles the old crew for a grudge-fuck job that will make them all filthy rich and cripple Bank at the same time. There are, of course, complications galore, and when they run low on cash, they turn to casino owner and onetime nemesis Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) for a loan. But that loan, naturally, comes with a steep price, namely the one thing that cannot be stolen from Bank.
Now, I loved Julia Roberts’ performance as the voice of the good-natured spider in “Charlotte’s Web” as much as the next person, but if you don’t mind me saying…thank God she’s not in this movie. Tess Ocean was dead, weight, and let’s face it: the “Ocean’s” movies, at the risk of sounding like a chauvinist, are “The Man Show” with a brain. In this universe, men rule and women drool (literally, in this case), and as awful as that sounds, that is how it needs to be. If you’re female and you’re not already aiding and abetting Danny’s latest heist, you may as well be on a trampoline.
That, however, is one of the movie’s forgivable flaws. As for flaws of an unforgivable nature, there are a couple plot twists that, upon reflection, don’t hold water, and Garcia is the most unbelievable heavy in the history of bad heavies. If you can get past that, though, you’re golden. Pacino, wisely, keeps things in low gear, and Ellen Barkin, as Pacino’s assistant Abigail Sponder, will make everyone forget about the crush they had on Helen Mirren last year. I’m not even going to comment on the performances by Clooney and Pitt because they’re not acting. This is a vacation for them. Ditto director Steven Soderbergh, who infuses his vérité-ish technique with some splashy graphics and gimmick shots. Hell, even the title cards are splashy.Clooney has said that they know that they screwed up “Ocean’s 12” in a big way (they did), and that they wanted to make the audience whole, to use one of Danny’s phrases (they did). Indeed, I found “Ocean’s Thirteen” to be the most enjoyable of this summer’s notorious threequels to date, and I don’t expect “Rush Hour 3” to give it much in the way of competition.