"Ocean's Eleven," the 2001 Las Vegas caper from Steven Soderbergh featuring a host of Hollywood smoothies in sharp suits, was a remake of...
“Ocean’s Eleven,” the 2001 Las Vegas caper from Steven Soderbergh featuring a host of Hollywood smoothies in sharp suits, was a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name. Now, with a stop in between for a larky overseas sequel (“Ocean’s Twelve”), Soderbergh’s back in Vegas with “Ocean’s Thirteen,” and guess what? It’s pretty much another remake — of the 2001 film, to be precise.
This is good news or bad news, depending on how you felt about Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Eleven.” If you hated it, move right along to the next review, and I’ll catch you later — there’s nothing here for you. Those who liked the earlier one (I did) will probably find that this one goes down well enough with popcorn, that George and Brad and Matt and Don and the gang look snappy, and that things move along quickly enough to prevent you from questioning whether the plot makes any sense. But there’s a faint party’s-over whiff to “Ocean’s Thirteen”; a sense that the champagne glass is nearly empty.
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“Ocean’s Thirteen,” with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, from a screenplay by Brian Koppelman and David Levien.
122 minutes. Rated PG-13 for brief sensuality.
The story’s essentially the same as before, with a few little twists from screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his gang of wisecracking con men are facing off against a hotel/casino owner named Willy Bank (Al Pacino, looking strangely orange), determined to seek revenge and bring him down. The hotel/casino owner they brought down in the first movie, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia, velvet-toned as ever), is on Ocean’s side this time — he’s annoyed because Bank’s hotel “casts a shadow on my pool.” You’d think he’d be annoyed purely on architectural grounds, because Bank’s hotel looks like a giant pair of garishly painted and violently twisted tweezers, but nobody seems to comment on this.
So, an elaborate plan is hatched, involving numerous disguises (Matt Damon’s Linus gets a new nose), props (Carl Reiner’s Saul wears a Doctor Doolittle hat), underground excavations (Don Cheadle’s Basher rarely gets to see the light of day), rigging of casino games, calculated seduction, invasion of elevator shafts, nifty gadgets, an on-the-side scheme for a diamond heist (just because, you know, bringing down the casino isn’t enough), constant chewing of gum (or scenery) by the cast, and one truly world-class eye roll from Clooney, in response to Garcia’s line, “I was born ready.”
Also in the mix is Ellen Barkin as Bank’s sleek hotel manager, who delivers a performance so poised that you almost forget to wonder why she seems to be wearing the same dress all the time. (I can only conclude that because it’s so tight, she can’t get it off. Surely this happens occasionally in Vegas.)
Soderbergh (who shot the film himself, under his cinematographer pseudonym Peter Andrews) has fun with the look of the film, playing with split screens, noirish lighting, overlays and occasional jolts of color. And the cast, who half the time seem to be improvising their lines, play their roles with infectious if predictable glee. It’s all perfectly enjoyable — indeed, far more entertaining than last month’s droopy casino comedy “Lucky Me” — but doesn’t add much to a formula that was fresher on its last visit to Vegas.
The party may well be ending for these gentlemen, but it was fun while it lasted.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org