Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Premise: After Rueben (Elliott Gould) is double crossed by Willy Bank (Al Pacino), the owner of the newest Las Vegas casino, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) leads his team of swindlers and card sharks to bring down Bank’s casino on its grand opening night.
What Works: After the disappointment of Ocean’s 12, this film is a return to the fun and energy of Soderbergh’s first Ocean’s film. As is typical for a Soderbergh picture, the technical elements are in top form and the film is shot with a slickness beyond what has come to be expected from his other films. Most of Ocean’s gang is back, minus female stars Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta Jones. For the most part, the film is playing off audience expectation and manages to fulfill it. While Ocean’s 13 does not do much that is new, (something Ocean’s 12 tried to do but failed), the film does elevate the intricacy of the heist and is more complex in its ins and outs. Aside from watching this group of actors work together so well, the best part of Ocean’s 13 is the return of Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). His relationship to Danny Ocean is more interesting to watch in this film than in the other two pictures, and the tenuous relationship allows for a greater sense of jeopardy.
What Doesn’t: The weakest element of the film is, surprisingly, Al Pacino. He underplays a role that does not make him very threatening to begin with. Only in the end does he start to pull the claws out, but the lack of menace during the duration of the film seriously weakens the conflict. Since the antagonist does not really do anything antagonistic, the film has little conflict to escalate toward a climax. Also, the loss of the Julia Roberts storyline seriously weakens the film. In Ocean’s 11, the love triangle between Roberts, Clooney, and Garcia’s characters provided emotional weight to the story. Without that, this Ocean’s film feels much more hollow.
Bottom Line: Ocean’s 13 is not brilliant in its storytelling, but it is a great deal of fun. Reuniting the Ocean’s team is like getting to hang out with the cool kids for an evening; it might not lead to much, it may be filled with superficiality, it might not even be that good for you, but it’s too enjoyable to pass up either.
Episode: #146 (June 24, 2007)