Ocean's Thirteen

The Shallow End

It’s trilogy time again. Ocean’s Thirteen is the latest third film of a franchise in a summer of three film franchises. It’s getting tiresome, and probably more so due to the fact that these third films are just retreads of the originals. O13 is no different. It’s another heist film where a gaggle of cool cats get together for yet another job robbing yet another casino. All the trademarks are here, but nothing is really better than the first film (itself a remake), just more of it.

Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) has made a mistake everyone warned him against: trusting the conniving Willie Bank (Al Pacino). As a result, Reuben has lost his stake in a casino, his money and his reputation. Pals Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) decide it’s time for some major payback and assemble another team to bring down Bank and his flashy new enterprise.

These films always have been, and always will be star vehicles. George Clooney (doing Frank Sinatra) and Brad Pitt (doing Dean Martin), are at their slickest, and exude oily charisma from frame one. They are fun to watch, as are the rest of the high profile supporting
actors (after Pacino and Gould) which include Matt Damon, Ellen Barkin, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner, Bernie Mac, Andy Garcia and David Paymer. All are good, and all do their job.

Director Steven Soderberg also returns again, and brings his colorful palette with him. Everything is bathed in bright reds, blues and greens, making Vegas look like the comic strip of exaggerations that it is. The production design is top notch, and everything looks perfect.

The problem is that we’ve all been here before, and nothing has changed other than the scope. The heist is ridiculously elaborate (they even employ the Chunnel drill), and unbelievable, but you expect that for this kind of movie. What you don’t expect is to be bored. With everyone acting just like they always have, Ocean’s Thirteen felt like an episode in a TV series. “Next week, Ocean’s team tackles Fort Knox! Will they escape with hair gel intact?”

I don’t mind movies like this. They are well-produced and kind of fun. What bugs me is that there is really no reason for it. It’s the same film we’ve seen in 2001. At least that movie had a stretch of time from the original that made it appear kind of fresh and different. This movie can’t claim that, and like the latest Shrek installment, feels unnecessary.