Ocean’s Eleven made the heist movie entertaining again by bringing together stylish visuals, quickfire dialogue and a cast list roll-call that ran like a Who’s Who of LA-la-land. The 2004 sequel Ocean’s Twelve tried to keep the fire burning and floundered. Now comes Ocean’s Thirteen – to rescue the franchise, or parcel it up for the cinematic morgue?
In a summer of “three-quels” – third parts of moneyspinning movie franchises – Ocean’s Thirteen would look a little lost alongside the likes of Shrek 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Not for Steven Soderbergh’s glossy flick acres of CGI or the realms of myth and fantasy. Instead we have Al Pacino joining the established cast of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon et al as Willy Bank, ruthless owner of garish new Vegas casino The Bank, who doublecrosses his business partner to wile his way to rewards and riches.
Unfortunately for Bank, that business partner is Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), one of the original Ocean’s Eleven, whose health deteriorates at a commensurate rate to his doublecrossed bank balance. Proving that there is indeed honour amongst thieves, his associates – led by “the Morecambe and Wise” of the crime world, Danny Ocean (Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Pitt) – set out to break The Bank with a characteristically elaborate scheme and return Reuben’s share of the business to him. Enlisting the financial backing of previously-robbed Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) against his competitor, the group once again congregates around the job in hand, employing their diverse array of talents to best effect.
After an interminable though for the most part enjoyable build-up, featuring Eddie Izzard’s computer guru and numerous semi-developed character-centric sub-plots – including one concerned with a strike in a factory in Mexico – Soderbergh’s pieces eventually begin to fall neatly, stylishly and satisfyingly into place. Yes, we’ve seen how luck, confidence and planning can reap rewards in the two previous films, but Soderbergh nuances enough plot twists this time round to just about hold our interest, helped by a cast obviously enjoying themselves.
With Clooney and Pitt suavely reprising their winning, easy chemistry at the heart of the film in an array of designer threads, the rest of the cast get opportunities aplenty to send themselves up. Matt Damon, for much of the movie, sports a prosthetic nose and greasy black hair as a disguise, while Don Cheadle gets to alternate between a guise of tweedy English hotel critic and retired Florida golfer. Pacino, as the baddie of the piece, is on postitively wolverine form.
Ocean’s Thirteen ends the series on a positive note, but does not suggest there’s enough mileage in this crime caper to last for another film, however much the cast and director enjoy themselves at playing baddies. Agreeable enough though this film is, it is to be hoped that Danny Ocean takes his pals on a well-earned and extended holiday to somewhere far away from casinos and employs that gambler’s maxim: Quit while you’re ahead.