Soderbergh's final 'Ocean' voyage is a splendid trip
Director Steven Soderbergh and star George Clooney knew they didn't deliver the goods with Ocean's 12. They have made up for their transgression by delivering a third film that will ring-a-ding-ding your bell with its nod to classic heist pictures of the past. David Holmes' delightfully retro score provides a kicky '60s and '70s ambiance that Soderbergh enhances with split-screen action. It's a cool vibe that might make you recall fondly such classic heist pics as The Thomas Crown Affair, Gambit and The Hot Rock, with The Sting thrown in for motivation.
The heist itself is the star in Ocean's 13, dazzling in its complexity, and cleverly designed to make sure the right people get taken down while minimizing the collateral damage.
The boys aren't looking for a score; they are looking for payback on a monumental scale. Reuben (Elliot Gould) has been double-crossed into a heart attack by Willie Bank (Al Pacino), a casino owner who acts like the mob is still running Las Vegas. Danny (Clooney), Rusty (Brad Pitt), Linus (Matt Damon) and the rest of crew are determined to ruin the reputation of Bank while stealing him blind. This total commitment to controlled mayhem, and a scheme that is remarkably intricate even for these heist-meisters, provides thrills and a ton of laughs. As always, we aren't privy to all the inside details so that Soderbergh can set off a few fireworks here and there that catch us by surprise.
Although Reuben's failing health triggers the controlled emotional response of Ocean's crew, this movie has less depth and character development than the original. That is not really a criticism, since this film was designed to provide breezy fun without too much thought and it does that in spades.
Virgil (Casey Affleck) gets so wrapped up in his job at a dice-making factory in Mexico, he organizes a wildcat strike that delays the heist. We find out that Danny cries while watching Oprah, that Basher writes sentimental get well notes and that Linus can become obsessed with his props, in this case a fake nose. Even when we think one thread of the plot is a bit mean spirited, involving a hotel critic (David Paymer), it turns out the boys have thoughtfully provided their victim with a nice bonus.
Ellen Barkin turns up as a casino whale hunter and assistant to Bank who isn't given much to do. That is until the boys use pheromones to engage her sex drive into overdrive, allowing her to make fun of her reputation as a sensual movie siren. Andy Garcia's Terry Benedict also arrives to bankroll the heist. He still hates Danny for ripping him off, as chronicled in Ocean's 11, but he hates Willie Bank even more. Al Pacino makes sure we hate him as well.
Ocean's 13 is one summer sequel that fulfills expectations. n
To read more about movies and other topics covered by movie critic Lori Hoffman under her blog alias Moviejunkie, visit http://blogs.atlanticcityweekly.com/
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