Ocean’s 13

June 14th, 2007 Film, Film Reviews, Xpress

The original Oceans Eleven, from 1960, bought the Rat Pack (Sinatra, Martin, etc) together in the perfect vehicle. It was a lovable rogues gallery of smart, funny guys you wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of but didn’t have to worry because hey, they were the good guys.

When Clooney and Soderbergh came together in 2001 to remake it, they following the same operating model. They scooped up every actor in Hollywood qualified and good looking enough to play James Bond, put them in tuxedos and had them embark on one of the most fun films of recent years, a heist thriller with old-school charm and charisma to spare.

Ocean’s 12 dropped the ball spectacularly. Where 11 had felt balanced, 12 was overstuffed with plot and personality. Whatever magic 11 had, Soderbergh and Clooney as producers and Soderbergh as director were careful to regenerate in Ocean’s 13, a good time romp similar to both the original 1960 film and 2001 remake.

It’s a classic heist movie, telling a complex story by showing us what we need to see and arranging the elements of the story according to where they fall, where they lie in relation to each other, and their causes and effects.

And this jigsaw puzzle is bought to the screen with some charismatic performances and snappy dialogue. In fact, you’d benefit from a few further viewings to catch every nuance and Macguffin the scam hinges on.

The film opens with the group’s patriarch Reuben (Gould) being ripped off by slimy casino kingpin Bank (Pacino), with whom he’s creating the biggest and best hotel/casino on Las Vegas’ main strip.

With Reuben out of it in bed after a heart attack following the double cross, the gang come together and decide to get even with Bank the only way they know how. A phoney hotel award representative played by Saul (Reiner), a $36 million underground drill operated by Basher (Cheadle), a Mexican plastics plant infiltrated by Virgil (Affleck) and Turk (Caan) and a fake nose for Linus (Damon) are just the beginning.

It’s all a joyous, funny and thrilling old-school good time. Don’t expect social comment or a political conscience — both Clooney and Soderbergh save that for other movies. In an age where stars are the new ambassadors for every political cause there is (including on screen), it’s a rare pleasure to see them doing what they do best — looking good, doing things us mortals would never dare and getting away with it all.

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