A light frothy cocktail sans the alcohol, Ocean's Thirteen might be a crowd pleaser for those who enjoyed the first outing of this remake of the original Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., original 1960 Rat Pack flick, Ocean's Eleven, but those who want some sting in their drink might be left wanting more.
The third in Director (also serving as Executive Producer and DP) Stephen Soderbergh's Ocean's series is a light and mildly humorous sequel in this Las Vegas heist caper. Most people who enjoyed Soderbergh's Ocean's films will most likely enjoy this outing which has more in common with his first Ocean's Eleven than the second in his series, Ocean's Twelve (2004). There's a steady stream of grins and chuckles and some nice connections among the cast that will keep the audience on their side.
Ocean's Thirteen is once againÂ set in Las Vegas in a new outlandishly-designed hotel built on the money and sweat of Ocean's mentor Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould).Â TishkoffÂ makes a big error in judgment when he pairs in the hotel venture with the loathsome Las Vegas businessman Willy Banks (Al Pacino). Banks cuts Tishkoff out of the deal, names the hotel after himself calling it Bank, and leaves Tishkoff in the hospital after suffering a heart attack.
Thanks to DannyÂ Ocean, Tishkoff makes it home to his big giant bed where he wiles away the hours staring into space. The Ocean guys worry about him resulting in Danny Ocean and the gang going after Banks to get even. This time revenge is Ocean's motive, not the money as in the past Ocean's films.
All the usual suspects appear once again in this 3rd Oceans film, though many of them are on screen as featured extras like Brad Pitt. His Rusty is really a cameo appearance; he only appears in one full scene that's his alone. He's in some other scenes, but with few lines. His character is one of many of the Ocean's 13 crowd that could have easily been left out of this film with no one the wiser. Rusty contributes nothing to this film that any of the other actors in the gang couldn't have done. Pitts' work on this film was clearly less than a week, most likely just a few days, regardless of his huge paycheck. It must be nice to earn big bucks in cameo appearances credited as lead performances. Pitt had the same opportunity in 2006's Babel; in that film he was featured as one of many in yet another ensemble cast film with three separate stories. Tease the audience with a star they want to see, but only give him a few scenes in a fraction of a film. One of many foul moves in the film biz. If you want to really see Pitt in action, go watch a film that he actually stars in for the full length of the film likeÂ TroyÂ (2004)Â orÂ Mr. & Mrs. SmithÂ (2005).
The other lead cast members could have also called in their work, though it is their names that make the audience turn out for tickets, in addition to Pitt, I'm talking about Clooney, and Damon here.
Don Cheadle is another Ocean regular who is under-utilized, but as always, his presence in any film comes with a certain amount of gravitas even when it's a light comedy caper. Cheadle, along with Casey Affleck and Scott Caan (gee, I wonder how they got cast) all acquit themselves nicely, with Affleck and Caan causing a riot at a Mexico plastics factory.... don't ask. Obviously the best way to become an actor is to be born to one, be related to one, sleep with one, or, these days, join a reality show.
The stellar supporting cast does a much better job with their work, with Al Pacino not over-acting for a change; the ever-sexy Ellen Barkin as Pacino's right-hand-woman; Ocean gang member Carl Reiner playing Saul Bloom/Kensington Chubb with panache; Andy Garcia renewing his turn as casino owner Terry Benedict; the gifted Eddie Izzard (Wayne Malloy in FXTV's excellent The Riches) as computer genius Roman Nagel who figures out a way to beat the Bank's security system; Super Dave Osborne / Bob Einstein as a nutty FBI agent; Julian Sands as Pacino's head of security; and David Paymer as a suffering hotel reviewer who calls himself a VUP (very unimportant person) because of the way the hotel staff treats him.
A billion dollar cast with little direction leaves this film floundering much of the time, though in very stylish fashion. That the story is coherent while the heist they pull off is complex is a gift from the screenwriters to the director. It's too bad that the highly touted Soderbergh didn't live up to his press releases.
Big stars can assure a film of big box office, that's why they are paid so out of line with reality. In Hollywood the unreal often becomes the norm. But a director's job is to give direction, not to allow the actors to work on their own with whatever interpretation of the characters they choose. There's little chemistry between the actors and one scene after another shoots by quickly without much explanation. Even with that in mind, this is not a hard film to follow and one that will, most likely, garner a big opening box office weekend. This reviewer could think of much worse ways to pass a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Digital Dogs rating:Â B
MPAA rating: PG-13 for brief sensuality
Running Time:Â 122 minutes
Producers Jerry Weintraub, Stephen Soderbergh, George Clooney, Director Stephen Soderbergh, Screenplay Brian Koppelman, David Levin from characters created by George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell, Music David Holmes, Editor Stephen Mirrione, DP Stephen Soderbergh credited as Peter Andrews, Actors George Clooney, Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Andy Garcia, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, Eddie Izzard, Casey Affleck, Julian Sands, David Peymer, Scott Caan, Bob Einstein, Oprah Winfrey
Â© 2007 by Digital Dogs
--- Digital Dogs is gather's Los Angeles Movie Correspondent ---
Digital Dogs' column, HOLLYWOOD POV, published every Thursday to Gather Essentials: Movies is an insider's look at the art, people, and product of Hollywood.
Digital Dogs is an opinionated writer, editor, and digital designer who lives and works in the Entertainment Capital of the world. DigiDogs' unique reviews are usually written well before a film's release date, and definitely worth the advanceÂ look at the films that influence the world.
You can find all of Digital Dogs' HOLLYWOOD POV columns by using the unique tag of "digidogs" or "hollywood pov."Â Keep up with Digital Dogs' other postings and Gather activity by joining their Gather network -- just click here - digitaldogs.gather.com - and select the orange "Connect" button on the left-hand side of the page. To see a complete listing of articles by Digital Dogs, click here.
You'll find Digital Dogs and other Movie Correspondents, plus celebrity content and plenty of other movie buffs at Movies.gather.com<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>