Undoubtedly one of the coolest film franchises in recent history, Steven Soderbergh's Ocean trilogy ends on a high note with "Ocean's Thirteen." After an unfortunately bland and self-absorbed second offering, "Thirteen" brings back the smug swagger and hip vibe of the original remake.
This time around, the score is revenge as the band of sly misfits proves once again there is honor among thieves. After their pal Reuben (Elliot Gould) has a heart attack in the course of being cheated out of his share of a hotel by Willie Bank (Al Pacino), the team meets at the hospital to discus retribution.
Ideas of poisoning and kidnapping are thrown around before cooler heads prevail. Instead of roughing up the Banks, they decide to do what they do best: steal his money. As Rusty (Brad Pitt) says, it doesn't matter if they win, as long as the house loses. So the crew sets out to pull off their most complicated job yet. Not only do they have to rig craps, black jack, slots and roulette, but they must also defeat the world's most advanced security system.
Named after its brilliant designer, the Greco Player Tracker has a built in artificial intelligence which can read every player and see if he is cheating by reading his heart rate and pupil dilation amongst other vital signs.
As the always fabulous Eddie Izzard tells Danny (George Clooney) and Rusty, "You're analog players in a digital world."
To further complicate matters, a shortage of funds leads the gang to call upon old foe Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) to help solve their financial problem. The casino owner has bad blood with Banks and agrees to invest his $36 million, but only under certain conditions. Benedict wants double his money back, supervision over the operation and for the crew to steal Banks' prize possessions, a set of diamond necklaces worth $250 million.
The jewelry represents the Royal Review Board Five Diamond Awards he has won for past hotels and casinos. Benedict tells Danny they can keep the diamonds when their through, he just wants Banks to lose them.
The actual heist is so complex, the last third of the film is dedicated to detailing just how Ocean's crew pulls it all off.
There is nothing really new in this edition of the Ocean's saga, but that is just fine. The film is made for audiences to just sit back and enjoy. There's never really a doubt that Danny or Rusty will accomplish just what they set out to do. It is really about the fun of getting the job done.
Clooney and Pitt play their characters to ultra hip precision. Lines are delivered so effortlessly, its easy to for forget you are not watching a real conversation between master thieves. They throw out technical thief lingo like a "Billy Martin" and "reverse big store" with such ease, it doesn't matter that you have no idea what they are talking about. If they say it is what should be done, then there is no point arguing.
Matt Damon is featured more heavily this time around, as it is his turn to try and get the girl, Banks' assistant Abigail Sponder (Ellen Barkin). His character Linus has developed from the rookie in "Eleven" to the number three man on the team, but he still can not escape his parents' shadow.
While not a film destined to garner many award nominations, "Ocean's Thirteen" is an enjoyable caper. On the same level as the original, and far superior to the franchise's sequel, "Thirteen" is the perfect movie escape during a summer featuring too many overblown, special effects heavy epics.
"Ocean's Thirteen" is rated PG-13 for brief sensuality. It has a running time of 122 minutes.