Thirteen, Lucky for Some
It has to be said that it was a surprise after the slight disappointment which was "Ocean's Twelve" that they decided to make another movie in the series. But despite being outrageously contrived, full of plot elements which you have to just accept "Ocean's Thirteen" came along and is a surprisingly good movie, or actually that should be surprisingly entertaining movie. Returning to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas and another casino heist it is in many ways a return to form, with fun set pieces, amusing performances and a drive which makes it run at a perfect pace.
When Reuben (Elliott Gould - MASH) suffers a heart attack thanks to being double crossed by Willy Bank (Al Pacino) in a deal to build a new Las Vegas casino, Danny (George Clooney - The Perfect Storm), Rusty (Brad Pitt - Meet Joe Black) and the gang reform. Having offered Willy the chance to do the right thing in the form of a 'Billy Martin' the gang have no choice than to bring Willy crushing down for what he did to their friend. So together they start planning a heist to destroy everything which Willy holds dear.
As with its predecessor what is particularly nice is that in "Ocean's Thirteen" they develop the storyline that whilst the underlying plot is your basic heist movie, it becomes more than just about stealing a lot of money. This time round it becomes more personal because Reuben Tishkoff has been had by big time casino owner Willy Banks who having shook Sinatra's hand should have known better. It has to be said that it's not the strongest of plots, as in that it is far from being tightly constructed, but it achieves the desired result of being entertaining. In many ways the contrivances fade into the background because the movie is all entertainment through action and humour rather than a complex well thought out storyline. Though saying that the not so much intricate but far fetched scheming to pull of the heist and that elements are thrown in to make the storyline twist and turn stop it from being a completely no brainer heist romp.
As with the previous two movies "Oceans Thirteen" focuses on entertaining through set piece humour and action. At times it does have that feel of just one set piece after another as screen time is dished out equally among the many stars who appear in the movie, but then for the most it actually works helping to keep things move along at a quick pace. But what is very apparent is that this time around it relies more on the double act of George Clooney and Brad Pitt even at one point comparing them to the legendary 'Morecombe & Wise'. It's not a bad thing either, as there is a naturalness to Clooney & Pitt making their scenes together honestly amusing and not feeling the effect of being heavily scripted.
It's no surprise that with Steven Soderbergh returning for more directional duties that "Ocean's Thirteen" is another gloriously visual movie full of clever camera techniques and snappy edits, all of which help make it feel even more pacey. But the most significant thing is that it returns to Las Vegas and all the glitz and glamour associated with it makes it feel big and entertaining, something which was missing from "Ocean's Twelve". It also helps that being back in Las Vegas the soundtrack acknowledges this with various pieces instantly associated with Vegas and delivering that beat which gives the movie a sort of rhythm.
Well with the exception of Julia Roberts the gang return and continue delivering the fun performances which have made the "ocean's" series such good entertainment, although this time round the camaraderie, the feeling of being a group is sort of lost making it feel a little like isolated performances. Not that it majorly distracts from the over all entertainment it's just noticeable. But the good things is that there are no scene stealing performances, yes George Clooney and Brad Pitt do dominate the action but there is still no apparent rivalry between stars where they are trying to outdo each other.
Whilst Julia Roberts doesn't return Vincent Cassel does for a small cameo as Francois Toulour. Plus we get Ellen Barkin and more significantly Al Pacino as crooked Casino boss Willy Banks. It's a fun performance from Pacino delivering all those elements of being a bit of a gangster but in a slight over the top caricature way making every scene he appears in entertaining.
What this all boils down to is that "Ocean's Thirteen" is a big improvement on "Ocean's Twelve" although not quite as good as "Ocean's Eleven". With the action returning to Las Vegas and the world of gambling helps make it more visually impressive with the glitz and glamour but also with a more Vegas soundtrack it has a nice pace to it. Even though the storyline is completely full of contrivances it doesn't really matter as it achieves what it sets out to do and that is be humorous and entertaining.