PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Reviews

Oceans Thirteen (2007)

Every time George Clooney or Bernie Mac admits to the lameness of Number Two, the third film in the franchise can't help but promise improvement.


Ocean's Thirteen

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino, David Paymer
MPAA rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros.
First date: 2007
US Release Date: 2007-06-08 (General release)
Website
By making a bad film the second time, that is a perfect example of pimping. That's a perfect example of not being true and honest to yourself. I don't want to do that. But my connection with the boys, I couldn't say no. I can't say no to Soderbergh, "Bernie, we want you in this." I was doing Guess Who at the time too and flying all over, that's how I got pneumonia... I said, "Man, this script is booty. I didn't know if it was Mission Impossible or what? What are we doing?' but you can't say nothing.

-- Bernie Mac, Rotten Tomatoes News (4 March 2007)

Most everyone agrees that Oceans Twelve was a disappointment. But if talking about that disappointment seems a peculiar pitch for Oceans Thirteen, it also looks pretty clever. Every time George Clooney or Bernie Mac admits to the lameness of Number Two, the third film in the franchise can't help but promise improvement.

One more time, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his boys stage a magnificently planned, brilliantly executed scheme to get even with an adversary and steal loads of money. This time, the scheme is motivated by revenge for one of their own: when Reuben (Elliot Gould) is cheated out of his money by the exceptionally smug and obnoxious Willie Bank (Al Pacino), the gang rallies to teach the villain a lesson. It's only too bad they don't include a directive to get his red-tinted hair redone.

The plot is much the same as in Oceans Eleven and Twelve, which means the gang, dispersed initially, gathers to address the crisis. As Reuben lies in his richly appointed bed, his friends pace and ponder outside on the villa's veranda. They must "make it right," they insist, not quite urgently, even as you understand the whole "honor" question as an essentially trumped up conduit to yet another caper. First step, following Bank's erection of The Bank, an exceedingly elaborate hotel and casino shaped like two strands of DNA stretching into the bright blue Las Vegas sky, is to plan a heist. The money, as always, is not the primary object, but rather, a means to inflict pain on Bank. Even more crucial in this process is ruining his chances for winning the Royal Review Board's Five Diamond Award, which he has won for all of his other magnificent hotels (revealed in a spiffy montage that rather repeats what you already know: the Oceans movies are all about showing fabulous locations in glittering sunlight).

In order to manage the heist, they must breach The Bank. And that means calling in a tech expert, namely, Roman (played by the utterly delightful Eddie Izzard). As he listens to Danny and Rusty (Brad Pitt) lay out the problem, he's increasingly skeptical. As usual, their goal is unattainable (and their protracted narrative grants still more occasion for shots of sensational locations). At last, Roman learns the security system installed in The Bank is not-incidentally designed by his old classmate Greco (Julian Sands) (when Rusty wonders about their names, Roman suggests he can't begin to know the ins and outs of British boys' schools). Named for its designer, the Greco is -- surprise! -- impossible to breach. And besides, he tells, Rusty and Danny, "You're analog players in a digital world."

Roman is right, but apparently, he's also not seen the previous two films. For the point of the Ocean heists, for all their gorgeous lighting and exquisite soundtracking, are dedicated to old-school boy wondrousness. Notoriously drawn from the old Rat Pack outings, the films use high-techy gadgets to ensure that safes might be cracked or vehicles, rooms, and gambling operations might be rigged, but really focus on the friendships, the jaunty demeanors, the cocktails and tuxedos.

Here again, the easy camaraderie among the major players remains the most predictably entertaining aspect of the film, particularly Danny's friendship with Rusty, which refers in-jokingly to the actors' famous friendship. A couple of times, the film drops you into their conversations midway, without back-story or explanation, so that punch-lines seem both unknowable and strangely satisfying, as in Rusty's apparently clever, wholly contextless rejoinder: "I said, 'What do I look like, a pancake eater?'" Read as you will.

Cute, if a little smirky, such interactions are the film's central attraction. Other encounters are less cunning and considerably more mechanical. As Linus (Matt Damon) is working through rather conventional "issues" with his father (an old-school con man), he eagerly tries to make his part in the current scheme exceptional. And so he offers to be the designated seducer of Willie's "right hand man," who is a woman, Abigail Spooner (Ellen Barkin). With Danny's wife Tess (Julia Roberts) absent (she's reportedly caring for the couple's child, and, as Danny insists, "It's not their fight"), Spooner serves as the movie's principal girl. Unfortunately, she's cast as a joke waiting to be punch-lined, desperate both to please her smarmy boss and to find sensual pleasure with "younger men." Her suits are tight and her cleavage stunning, she ends up looking more foolish than smart, especially when Linus uses what seems a hormone-derived drug to induce her obsessive-for-a-minute interest in him (the fact that he also dons a humungous plastic nose as a "disguise" might have sounded funny on paper).

Similarly, the film makes raucous fun of a hotel reviewer (David Paymer), whom the schemers abuse mercilessly, inflicting on him rashes and tainted food. His descent into misery parallels the other plots, each granting a performer a moment in the spotlight, per formula. Frank (Mac) runs a dominoes table, Basher (Don Cheadle) swaggers as an Evel Knievelsih motorcycle stunt rider, and the moral-minded brothers Malloy (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan) encourage a workers' demonstration in Mexico, before ensuring the manufacture of trick dominoes for Frank's game. By the time the crew enlists the help of former foe Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the 122 minutes running time is seeming awfully long. The big climax involves earthquakes and fireworks, as well as hordes of desperate (not Oceans-style) gamblers thrilled to win all kinds of cash.

5

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.