Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ocean's Thirteen (2007)

Ocean's: Act Three

- The final act in Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's" Trilogy, Ocean's Thirteen (2007) sees our colorful clan of likable con-men take on Willy Bank (played by Al Pacino) after he screws their buddy Reuben out of an honest deal and into bad health. Rather than set out to steal something this time (although they find something to steal along the way), the Eleven plan to sabotage the opening of Bank's new hotel any way that they can – of course high-tech security and the FBI make the mission difficult for our crooked heroes.

While not exactly the best end to the "Ocean's" Trilogy in my view, I did find Ocean's Thirteen to be a moderately entertaining movie overall. I am not on board with the idea that Ocean's Thirteen is a step up from the commonly thought-of weak Ocean's Twelve (2004). I, in the face of a sea of film fans that say otherwise, retain the opinion that the first Ocean's film is great, the second film is good, but this third film is only average entertainment.

And what makes Ocean's Thirteen the weakest of the "Ocean's" films, you might ask? Well, while some of the comedy certainly is forced and Al Pacino is exasperatingly over-the-top, my opinion is formed largely by the film's plot....

First of all, the first two "Ocean's" films both had convoluted plots but Ocean's Thirteen notches up the convolution to a breaking point. Nearly impossible is following the plot in this movie.

Secondly, even though the Ocean's crew is on a personal vendetta, I was not able to emotionally invest in this film – something that was not hard to do for the previous films - probably due to the fact that Ocean's Thirteen is less character-oriented and more mission/gimmick-oriented than the rest of the Ocean's films.

Finally, the film's general story is fundamentally lackluster. Many fans and critics praise Ocean's Thirteen as a "return" to what worked in Ocean's Eleven but that is precisely why I found Ocean's Thirteen underwhelming. While it is fun to see the Eleven in a casino trying to steal from a casino mogul again, it is not exactly a novel place to take the characters. What was nice about the second "Ocean's" film was that it took the characters to a different place thematically and geographically – this third installment sees the characters back where they started in the trilogy. I, personally, would have liked to have seen something a little bit more innovative.

On a related note, the film's main plot carries along with it an unimaginative main villain. Ocean's Twelve went away from the casino mogul as the villain and went with a master thief – a shadow of the Ocean's crew themselves – and it was a fresh direction for the trilogy. In Ocean's Thirteen, the series went soft and backtracked to another Benedict-like villain in Al Pacino's cartoonish Willy Bank character. Pacino was on screen not two minutes and I was already bored with the character – again, I would have liked to have seen some innovation with a more inspired villain.

Ocean's Thirteen is not a bad movie by any means - the Clooney/Pitt-led cast is just as entertaining as they have been throughout the series (sans Julia Roberts! Yay!) and movie maestro Steven Soderbergh blankets everything in a stylish and colorful visual flare. However, because it gets lazy and simply reverts to the formula of Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Thirteen just does not quite measure up to its "Ocean's" predecessors. So, while a bit of a disappointing end for Ocean's crew, Ocean's Thirteen is entertaining enough as the final installment of the trilogy... I just recommend the first two "Ocean's" films a lot more.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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