2000's, Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Bernie Mac, Brad Pitt, Caper, Carl Reiner, Casey Affleck, Comedy, Crime, Don Cheadle, Eddie Jemison, Ellen Barkin, Elliott Gould, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ocean's Thirteen, Scott Caan, Shaobo Qin, Steven Soderbergh
- George Clooney as Danny Ocean
- Brad Pitt as Rusty Ryan
- Matt Damon as Linus Caldwell
- Al Pacino as Willy Bank
- Ellen Barkin as Abigail Sponder
- Andy Garcia as Terry Benedict
- Don Cheadle as Basher Tarr
- Elliott Gould as Reuben Tishkoff
- Casey Affleck as Virgil Malloy
- Scott Caan as Turk Malloy
- Eddie Jemison as Livingston Dell
- Carl Reiner as Saul Bloom
- Shaobo Qin as Yen
- Bernie Mac as Frank Catton
The concluding movie in the classy and cool caper series, Ocean’s Thirteen thankfully returns to the vein of the first movie after going off the boil with Ocean’s Twelve. And thank goodness Thirteen delivers the goods as I was a bit apprehensive of which way this movie could go. I’m happy to report it went in a very slick direction and was an enjoyably breezy affair.
Thirteen begins with flamboyant but lovable businessman Reuben Tishkoff being tricked into signing over his share of a new casino to egotistical Willy Bank. Reeling from the shock, Reuben suffers a heart attack and remains bedridden from the experience. Angered, suave Danny Ocean reconnects the old team; slick Rusty, thief Linus, outrageous Basher, the amusingly feuding Malloy brothers Virgil and Turk, witty Frank, technology guy Livingston, old con man Saul and acrobatic Yen. As revenge on the traitorous Bank, Danny wants to humiliate him on the opening night of his new casino. Formulating a plan to rig the games by infiltrating suppliers so that Bank will be cleared out of money, tarnish his sterling reputation and just about anything else to ruin him, the gang knows that if it is successful justice for Reuben will be done. Yet one part of the plan requires a powerful underground drill to simulate an earthquake and after one attempt, the drill breaks forcing them to rethink. Eventually, though they’re all reluctant to do so, they acquire the service of former enemy Terry Benedict, who can finance them with a new drill and get his own back on old rival Bank. Benedict also wants to steal an extensive diamond collection belonging to Bank which adds even more danger to the complex plan. It’s getting this elaborate plan to flow smoothly that poses the biggest problem, as well as Bank’s eager to please PA Abigail and whether or not Terry will double cross anyone. So will Danny and his merry band of thieves be able to pull of this vengeance fueled plan?
Once more, Steven Soderbergh shows of his flair for panache with inspired direction that utilizes many of the snappy visual tricks he so often likes to use. His use of split screen and overlapping images creates a jazzy and snazzy effect as the revenge plan playfully begins. Las Vegas looks a million dollars and the characters do too, in a film that thanks to Soderbergh’s great devilish eye flows along nicely as mischievous plans and justice is served to Bank for misdeeds. Whereas Ocean’s Twelve went completely overboard with its twists, Thirteen keeps it a bit more simple and largely benefits from not indulging in show off tactics. The plan that Danny and the crew formulate is essentially a complex revenge game, but for the audience it never becomes too complicated to understand as we’re rooting for their plan to work on the dastardly Bank. A wonderful script, filled with wit and hilarity, brings out the fact that the crew isn’t doing this job for a thrill. The job is for something more personal than just money or wealth, proving that there may in fact be honor among thieves after all. There is the added bonus of the chemistry with the cast again and the fact that almost everyone is given something to do, something which Twelve didn’t do so well. You do get a sense of glee watching the guys wreak havoc on Bank, via tricks and disguises, and hit him where is hurts, his money. All of this fun and amusing antics are backed up by a sizzling score that reverberates with old-school swing and silky jazz riffs. The only real flaw in Thirteen is that it isn’t as good as Eleven, but has oodles of style and wit that put it very close to it and acres above Twelve.
The ensemble cast are clearly having a blast that radiates off the screen with energy and verve. George Clooney is on fine form as the urbane Danny, doing his own brand of justice and revenge with panache and humour. Backing him up is the charms of Brad Pitt as Rusty, who is one of the main brains in the plan to humiliate Bank for crossing the line with Reuben. Matt Damon shows a flair for comedic antics as Linus, who is finally given some credit that he’s fought for so long to get. Watching as he is disguised with a bulbous nose and Bond villain hair and having to woo the efficient Abigail is a real hoot and Damon sells it all the way with hilarious enthusiasm. Sporting a dodgy spray tan and larger than life ego, Al Pacino is at home essaying the persona of the arrogant and morally corrupt Willy Bank, who is going to be hit for all that he is worth by the suave crew. As the lone female in the movie, Ellen Barkin is hugely amusing as the perfectionist PA Abigail, who unwittingly helps the crew in their daring plan after being charmed by a disguised and pheromone infused Linus. Sporting ruthless and oily tics, Andy Garcia is deceptive as the former enemy brought in to help, who may or may not be trustworthy. Don Cheadle exudes an over zealous and flamboyant antics, while Elliott Gould puts his heart into Reuben, whose heart attack puts in motion the revenge for Bank. Casey Affleck and Scott Caan are wonderfully comical as the Malloy twins, particularly in their stint undercover at a Mexican plastics facility where they unintentionally cause the workers to rise up against woeful underpayment. Nervous energy comes courtesy of Eddie Jemison, while sophistication is given by veteran Carl Reiner and athletic prowess from the lithe Shaobo Qin. Out of all the cast, Bernie Mac is unfortunately not given a lot to do which is a shame as his character of Frank is usually a comic highlight and the fact that this was one of Mac’s last film roles before his early death.
So while the first Ocean’s is my favourite, Thirteen manages to capture some of the witty and flashy charm of it and more than make up for the debacle of Twelve. If it’s enjoyment you require, Ocean’s Thirteen more than does the job with sizzling sophistication and proves that thirteen isn’t always an unlucky number.