This is the fourth three-quel that I’ve seen so far this summer. While most of them seem to follow the law of diminishing returns (I just don’t know how many more Shrek stories they can come up with, really), 13 actually brought better luck than 12 for the Ocean’s franchise. That being said, Ocean’s Thirteen did suffer from the burden of far too complex a plot (and by “plot”, I mean the plot to tank Al Pacino’s mega-casino). By the time I realized that the scheme involves sabotaging a hotel review, manipulating wealthy high-rollers, hacking a super-sophisticated security system, stealing expensive diamonds, infiltrating a Mexican plastics factory and simulating an earth-quake, I wished that I had not bothered to follow it all and just enjoyed the coolness. Brad Pitt and George Clooney (as Rusty Ryan and the titular Danny Ocean) are slick and unflappable as always, ring-leading the pack in their plan to retaliate against Pacino for hurting one of their own (Elliot Gould). Between the glitz of the fabulous hotel, and all the clever schemes, it’s an incredibly fun ride (like having your buddy drive you around in a nice sports car. Just don’t ask him where you’re heading.) I don’t know if they’ve tried to spread the screen time a bit more evenly this time around, but it seems like we spend less time with Pitt and Clooney, and surprisingly focus on some of the worker-bees of the team. Matt Damon also gets the spotlight playing an odd under-cover role that has him slicking back his hair and applying a fake nose. A few missteps like those aside, this supposedly last movie in the series is a nice, albeit forgettable, return to form for Ocean and his gang. (4 out of 5)
What if I made Ocean’s Thirteen?
I would have trimmed down the plot substantially. They didn’t need to add a diamond heist, and the whole earthquake/drill/security system plot was too much. Also, I would have gotten rid of the Mexican factory storyline as well. Try to focus on the characters and what they mean to each other and how they work well as a team. I liked that nerdy Eddie Jemison’s techie character got some attention. I’m surprised that a director like Steven Soderbergh indulged in such campiness as having Matt Damon with the fake nose, and Ellen Barkin succumbing to an aphrodisiac. Plus, Don Cheadle as some silly Evel Knievel caricature — so uncool. Finally, save the money that was dished out to Al Pacino. All he did was ham it up all over the place. Surely there are some cheaper marquee villains out there (what about James Gandolfini? He’s looking for work. Or how about a smart, rich, Asian character for an antagonist–like Lucy Liu’s O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill. That would have rocked!)