Review by Jack Foley
AFTER taking an undeserved critical pounding for Ocean’s Twelve Steven Soderbergh and company were always facing a bit of a gamble as they sought to redress the balance with Ocean’s Thirteen.
But when the chips are down you can always count on genuine talent to shine through – and this third movie in the stylish franchise marks a blazing return to the feelgood values of Ocean’s 11.
Slick, funny and clever as hell, Ocean’s Thirteen is one of the most straightforwardly enjoyable movies of the summer so far – and it does so by returning largely to basics.
Gone are the diverting love interests that contributed to Twelve‘s “losing” hand, replaced instead by the thrill of the con and the joy of watching Ocean’s men at play.
This time, they’re back in Vegas and seeking revenge after their beloved mentor Reuben Tischkoff (Elliott Gould) suffers a heart attack after being double-crossed in a business deal by unscrupulous hotelier Willy Bank (Al Pacino).
Determined to break the Bank (literally) by destroying his new multi-billion dollar hotel on opening night, Ocean’s crew put into play a complex series of cons, heists and deceptions that also require the assistance of past target Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia).
The camaraderie between the players continues to sparkle and Soderbergh, for his part, pulls a couple more aces out of the pack.
George Clooney and Brad Pitt continue to exchange banter as effortlessly as Newman and Redford in their prime and enjoy the opportunity to poke fun at themselves, while Matt Damon proves himself equally adept at comic timing (especially during his seduction sequence with Ellen Barkin).
There’s an inspired detour in Mexico featuring Casey Affleck’s character, as well as a wonderful recurring gag based around Oprah Winfrey’s TV show, and Andy Garcia shines whenever he’s on-screen. Even Al Pacino nicely underplays as the scheming Bank, chewing his way through some very smart lines without ever resorting to showboating.
There’s a sense that he could, perhaps, have benefited from a little more menace but the emphasis clearly is on keeping things tongue in cheek.
Soderbergh, meanwhile, ensures that the look and feel of proceedings continues to maintain the high standards of its predecessors and includes some virtuoso moments behind the camera, including several experimental sequences that dazzle. And where Ocean’s Twelve was accused of being too smug, Thirteen strikes a much better balance, working overtime to ensure that everyone feels like they’re part of the joke.
Contrary to expectation, then, Thirteen proves a lucky charm for the Ocean’s team and audiences really should cash in.
Running time: 2hrs 1min
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- David Holmes interview
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