Saturday, July 14, 2007

'Thirteen' is a lucky number for 'Ocean's'

***1/2 out of ****

A-List gang is back for comedy heist flick, Ocean’s Thirteen, the third installment in the Ocean’s franchise. Minus Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones but adding Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, and Eddie Izzard the cast doesn’t miss a beat.

The thirteen that make up the Ocean’s gang are led by Danny Ocean (George Clooney): one of the master minders behind the heists along with, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), the rookie, Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), the machinery expert, Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle), a casino dealer, Frank Catton (Bernie Mac), Danny’s rich mentor, Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould), con-artist, Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner), brothers that have knowledge in all fields, Virgil Malloy (Casey Affleck) and Turk Malloy (Scott Caan), expert in technology, Livingston Del (Eddie Jemison), acrobatic master, Yen (Shaobo Qin), the rich casino-owner that the gang robbed in the first two Ocean’s films, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), and another connoisseur in technology, Roman Nagel (Eddie Izzard). These thirteen make up a tidal wave of action.

Returning back to Las Vegas, Thirteen isn’t about getting the, money, but revenge. The victim? Willy Bank (Pacino), famous for his hotels winning the ‘Five Diamond’ award. Willy cheated Reuben out of his money and ownership in his new ultra-luxury hotel/casino in Vegas appropriately named, ‘The Bank’. The stress caused old man Rueben to have a heart attack.
The plan for revenge? To rig everything, from the blackjack tables to the slot machines by opening night so all of the gambling patrons will win, setting Willy back half a billion dollars, bankrupting him in the process.

Ocean’s Thirteen is back to its original glossy form, a slight notch below Ocean’s Eleven, but a vast improvement from the utterly disastrous Ocean’s Twelve whose heist was ripping off us American movie-goers $125 million.

The acting is first-rate like the first two, with the cast pulling in the audience having an extremely fun time. Ellen Barkin is great as the icy Abigail Sponder, Willy’s right-hand man. Pacino’s acting job as Willy Bank could be a dub for the Donald, but is too light in some scenes for a villainous character.

Directed again by Steven Soderbergh, Thirteen has a lickety-split pace, but never seems rushed. Soderbergh manages to give each of the cast members their own scene, a rare directing quality that keeps you involved throughout the film, though the presence of Pitt, Clooney, Damon, Barkin, and Pacino command most scenes.

New writers, Brian Koppelman and David Levein do a fine job, with an easy to follow enjoyable script, being taken along as if part of the heist. But in some scenes the lingo gets to technical to the point where you just say “Huh?”

So far out of this summer’s disappointing threequels, Ocean’s Thirteen beats the odds and comes up a winner.

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