“Ocean’s 13” is flashy, frivolous fun
In the year which we shall now call “three-peat summer” “Ocean’s 13” arrives as a breath of fresh air and while it in no critical area improves upon the magic of its deliriously watchable original installment it’s flashier and funnier than expected.
aper purists will decry its scattershot structure and it’s true, “Ocean’s 13” explains as it develops and, devoid of any big surprises, lacks the tension that can make a heist film even more fun. But the visual elegance of both the impressive Las Vegas-based set pieces and its A-list cast make the film so easy to look at and enjoy, any below the surface analysis feels like nitpicking.
Truth is, “Ocean’s 13” plays fast and loose with our sensibility for the simple reason that it doesn’t want us to do anything more than enjoy the ride.
Almost everyone is back (Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Garcia et. al) save Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones (sigh) and in their stead we add the snarling Al Pacino as Will Bank, (with a smarmy PA played by Ellen Barkin) creator of a phallic monstrosity of a new hotel casino with designs to set a new standard on the strip for extravagance and luxury. (The film deftly and seamlessly inserts the towering, glittering CGI structure into live shots of the current strip).
When Bank screws one of the gang (Reuben–Elliot Gould) to the point of putting him in the hospital, the boys rally and conspire to make the new operation a bust on opening day by endlessly rewarding average customers with colossal winnings. The swindle requires an impressive assortment of ruses-trick dice, magnetic roulette balls, programmed card machines but these seem like parlor games compared to the technology that will be required to simulate an earthquake in order to create casino chaos. A bit much? You bet your bump.
But perhaps not even the acquisition, transportation and installation of an underground earthquake simulator below the busiest street in the U.S. is preposterous when you think of all the people that had to be bribed AND trusted to pull off a heist of this magnitude.
“Ocean’s 13” is actually a closer relative of its #12 sibling (all three films were directed by Steven Soderbergh) which dabbled in camaraderie and cameos at the expense of witty plot exposition and execution and to that end the fun here is in the company we’re keeping not so much the larceny we’re observing.
Still, in the assembly line of sequels hitting the theaters thus far, “Ocean’s 13” feels the freshest and one actually deserving of another go round at some point-especially if a caper that measures up becomes available. Mr. Soderbergh, we can wait until the right one comes along.
Rated PG-13 (for brief sensuality)