Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Casey Affleck, Ellen Barkin, Scott Caan, Vincent Cassel, Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Elliott Gould, Eddie Izzard, Eddie Jemison, Bernie Mac, Al Pacino, David Paymer, Brad Pitt, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner, Julian Sands
Rated: PG-13 for brief sensuality.
Parental Notes: This is a fairly straightforward caper film — all talk and scheming, little-to-no violence or sex. There’s some heavy breathing and innuendo in a few scenes, but that’s about it. It will likely go over the heads of youngsters, and it’s innocuous for older kids.
Danny Ocean and his crew are back for another outing in “Ocean’s 13,” and there’s plenty of reason for folks who liked “Ocean’s 11” but were disappointed by “Ocean’s 12” to be concerned. Not only are the original eleven characters back, but almost all the major characters from “Ocean’s 12” are too, and there are new adversaries for them to go up against. This brings the total number of central characters to eighteen, which is an awful lot for a film that’s not even two hours long. Fortunately, “Ocean’s 13” is a solid entry in the series. It doesn’t match the brilliance of the first film, but is solidly enjoyable.
The plot is as ornate as we’ve come to expect from the series, but the basic story is this: Reuben (Elliott Gould) has been horribly cheated in a partnership with Willy Bank (Al Pacino), with whom he was building a new hotel and casino in Las Vegas. When Reuben suffers a near-fatal heart attack from the shock, his old friends decide it’s time for some payback. They offer Bank the chance to make things right, and when he declines, they start plotting to make Bank lose big when the new casino opens. The entire crew is on board, but it’s a big job.
The only characters missing are Isabel Lahiri (Catharine Zeta-Jones) and Tess Ocean (Julia Roberts), the gals in the lives of Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) and Danny Ocean (George Clooney), respectively. Danny insists they’re not along for the caper because it’s “not their fight,” but snippets of conversation scattered through the film suggest that the ladies are not terribly pleased with our heroes at the moment.
The dialog is snappy as ever, from the throw-away names of the various con schemes they use to the banter between our heroes. As in the other films, the writers don’t feel the need to explain every last thing. The one exception to the otherwise spot-on writing is a somewhat tacked on series of scenes which let Danny and Rusty explain their plans. The dialog there is a bit weak, but as exposition scenes go it’s fairly decent.
The biggest flaw in the film is that there are so many characters, they all get somewhat short shrift in the plot. In addition, “Ocean’s 11” had the advantage that the eleven main characters were all perfect for the caper, since the two had been written together. “Ocean’s 13” has a caper which has been designed to the characters, and it’s not as good a fit. Yen (Shaobo Qin) hardly gets to show off his acrobatic abilities at all here, for example.
That aside, though, it’s a delight to see (nearly) everyone back for a well-crafted adventure. There are plenty of little twists and turns, and even if it doesn’t quite keep you guessing, at least it’s entertaining along the way.