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Ocean's Thirteen

by Yoda
posted on 6/12/07
At its heart, the Ocean's series is about two things: getting revenge, and looking good while doing it. In Ocean's Eleven, the crew's trying to steal money from the man (Terry Benedict) who stole Danny Ocean's wife. In Ocean's Twelve, Benedict extracts his own revenge when he finds them all and demands his money back -- with interest. Ocean's Thirteen reinstalls the original gang as the ones seeking vengenace, and improves on the disappointing Twelve as a result.

This time around, their sights are set on Willie Bank (Al Pacino), a partner of Reuben's who pushed him out (almost literally) of the release of a new casino. Reuben has some sort of panic attack, and Ocean and Co. vow to break Bank in retaliation.

To do this, they concoct an elaborate scheme not so much to make themselves money as to make sure Bank loses his. This involves rigging as many casino games as possible for Bank's grand opening, and symbolically stealing the four "Five Diamond" awards his past establishments have netted.

There are twists and turns here, as expected, and it's unlikely that anyone will have an all-encompassing picture of what's gone down after only one viewing, but the major aspects of the scheme are easy enough to follow. There are several instances which require a significant suspension of disbelief, but none of them as egregious as those in Ocean's Twelve, and the fundamentals of the story hold together.

Particularly noteworthy is how funny Thirteen is. Even though the series as we know it is likely to fold after this installment, the film opts to gloss over most of the usual poignant full-circle stuff that typically befits the last act in a trilogy. Instead, it focuses on being breezy and light. The result is some slightly dated humor, but the funniest film of the three.

All the performances here are good, per usual. Pacino makes for a decent villain. He doesn't steal the show, but isn't really required to. Ellen Barkin plays his right-hand woman with a nice mix of confidence and tentativeness. And, of course, all the dialogue flows together seamlessly.

Unfortunately, Ocean's Thirteen does fall victim to a mild case of sequel-itis in squeezing in an unnecessary cameo from one of Twelve's characters. It's one of only a few things that feels forced, and largely does only because everything else feels so effortless. One can't help but get the feeling that director Steven Soderbergh can make these things in his sleep.

As fun and quick-witted as you'd expect, Ocean's Thirteen sacrifices a bit of believability for a bit more spectacle and a lot more comedy. Predictably, it doesn't approach the first film in the series, but it's a step-up from the second, and is an adequate send-off for this modern-day Rat Pack.