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Review: Ocean’s 13 – A fine ride through lukewarm summer waters

June 9, 2007

Matt Damon, George Clooney & Brad PittSteven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s” franchise has officially jumped the shark. In fact, it has jumped on to the shark to take audiences for a welcome and hysterical ride.

Ocean’s 13 is the least plausible of the three movies, and that’s good news. Each movie has managed to top its predecessor, in terms of the need to stretch the limits of believeability. In order to top this one, Danny and the gang will need to mount a robbery of the first casino in space which is being opened by Ralph Fiennes in a thinly-veiled, but nefarious version of Richard Branson.

Where Ocean’s 12 lost a certain amount of their audiences in running a bit more closely to Soderbergh’s less mainstream indie fare, “13” should please those audiences once again with more of an over-the-top, hip and fun return-of-the-cool.

“13” finds Danny Ocean (George Clooney), Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), and the gang gathering around the hosipital bed of Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould), the beloved financier of the previous two film’s capers. Reuben’s been betrayed by mega-casino operator Willy Bank (Al Pacino), and in the process, left for poor and near comatosed. Running interference for Pacino is his Sea of Love co-star and “13’s” lone set of XX chromosomes, Ellen Barkin. But this time, the caper isn’t to make off with all the riches of the kingdom, but more importantly, to ruin Willy Bank as he opens his skyscraper mega-casino, The Bank.

Ocean's Thirteen - Let the good times roll Ocean’s 13 like its predecessors, is equal parts fun, hip and smart. You go to these movies to spend an evening watching the pretty people be cool, awash in a world of money and style, and it’s a pleasure to do so.

The moments you expect to see of cheeky wordplay and sillyness are in here en- masse with an almost Mamet-like élan. But thankfully, the film never takes itself too seriously, and that’s key to its success. This, in combination with the supporting talents of actors such as Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia and Bernie Mac ensure that this film gets away with the continuous swagger that makes Ocean’s 13 a romp.

Furthermore, the unexpected touches brought forth by Rounders screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien make it different from your average summer fare. At times, “13” feels like a forgotten Irwin Allen disaster pic. In another surprising storyline, we see a hilarious pass at the film classic, Salt of the Earth where Casey Affleck inspires workers at a Mexican dice factory toward a revolt.

Ultimately what makes Ocean’s 13 work is the sum of its parts. You want to see this cast doing what it does best: playing smart, fun and cool. The fun that they have making the movie is all over the screen. David Holmes once again lends his usual brand of musical chic to the soundtrack. And of course, Steven Soderbergh brings his usual manner of crisp and visually appealing cinematic aplomb, proving once again that he makes two kinds of films: good ones and even better ones.

This is definitely my idea of good and escapist summer fare. It never is having so much fun that it doesn’t have the time to remind you that you still have a brain. As far as I am concerned, anytime George, Brad, Steven and Jerry Weintraub decide it’s a good time to get the crew together for one last caper, I’ll be there: Willing to jump on to the shark for another ride.

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