Dir: Steven Soderbergh. US. 2007. 122mins.
Thirteen should produce some lucky numbers for Warner Brothers and maintain the muscular box-office momentum in the current summer of threequels. The third entry in the crime caper franchise, Ocean's Thirteen marks a return to form after the self-indulgent tomfoolery of its globe-hopping predecessor, even if the revenge heist scenario now feels very tired.
Steven Soderbergh disguises the paucity of the material with an effortless display of technical virtuosity and the laidback charisma of the stellar cast should encourage undemanding audiences to embrace this entertaining but instantly forgettable divertissement. Critical reactions are likely to be less indulgent as commentators question why so many heavyweight talents are employed on such a featherweight enterprise but that is a minor matter in the fate of such a critic-proof money-maker.
Ocean's Thirteen is released in the US on June 8, with several other major markets taking the film in or around the same time, including the UK, France, Germany and Spain.
Emphasising the ties that bind the original gang, Ocean's Thirteen employs the same elaborate Las Vegas revenge plot that worked for Ocean's Eleven. This time its personal as Reuben (Gould) falls foul of ruthless casino owner Willy Bank (Pacino) and suffers a heart attack. The gang (minus a sorely-missed Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta Jones) assemble to maintain a bedside vigil and plot Bank's comeuppance.
It takes the form of an elaborate, exhausting plan to literally break the bank/Bank on the opening night of his new hotel casino whilst also scuppering his chances of winning a coveted Five Diamond Award and stealing some $250m worth of his diamonds.
Ocean's Thirteen is top heavy with plot and seems obliged to provide some decent screen time for each of the characters-Virgil (Affleck) heads to Mexico to infiltrate a factory, Basher (Cheadle) digs an underground tunnel to provoke an earthquake, Yen (Qin) poses as a high roller etc. This certainly lightens the load on George Clooney and Brad Pitt although their warm teamwork remains one of the film's principal pleasures especially as they stroll the city finishing each others' sentences and recalling the good old days.
Nobody has great demands made upon them with an orange-tanned Pacino coasting by on bluster and Ellen Barkin underemployed as Banks sexy, right-hand woman Abigail. Eddie Izzard, Andy Garcia and Vincent Cassel are among the series regulars roped in for another appearance. But it is David Paymer who squeezes the most comic mileage from his appearance as a Five Diamonds inspector experiencing the hotel stay from hell.
Taking his lead from cool, cutting-edge 1960s caper movies like Gambit (1966) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Soderbergh exercises his creativity by indulging a full panoply of appropriate flourishes including the use of split-screen and also deploys a steely colour palette that lends the film a supremely stylish sheen.
The style inevitably dominates the substance but when the substance is as flimsy as this then nobody is likely to be complaining.
Village Roadshow Pictures
Warner Bros (most)
Frederic W Brost
Peter Andrews (aka Soderbergh)