Ocean’s Thirteen

By Gus Bode

Rated PG-13

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino

Directed by Steven Soderbergh


Runtime: 2 hours, 2 minutes

A film comprised of all style and no substance is most often criticized as being shallow and meaningless. In some cases, however, such a film can be worthwhile, so long as it is thoroughly and irrevocably cool. Fortunately for audiences, “Ocean’s Thirteen” is cool — very cool. The third and latest chapter of the “Ocean’s” saga begins with the gang’s father figure, Reuben (Elliott Gould), getting cheated out of the co-ownership of a brand-new Las Vegas casino by the delightfully conniving Willie Bank (Al Pacino). Acting in defense of Reuben, the “Ocean’s” crew (George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, et al.) put a plan into motion to rig the ill-gotten casino on its opening night resulting in the loss of millions of dollars. Despite an overall plot structure that might seem to have a bit of logic to it, the film tends to keep its distance from all things sensible. In the film the characters are given a short time to rig the casino. They somehow manage to transport two multi-ton tunnel-drilling machines from Europe to downtown Las Vegas and get them beneath the ground unnoticed — quite a remarkable feat for such a small group of men who have no apparent training with heavy machinery.

But illogical occurrences are negligible, because “Ocean’s Thirteen” exists on the premise that anything can be achieved within a movie, so long as the audience does not think too much about it. Throughout the film, director Steven Soderbergh’s flashy camerawork and up-tempo pacing help just about anyone keep their disbelief suspended on the other side of the theatre door. The film is filled with an array of zooms and whip pans that follow the characters as they cut to and from beautiful casinos, Mexican dice factories, and the Las Vegas strip. All the while, the audience is too blinded by the lights to see there is nothing behind them. “Ocean’s Thirteen” is a great example of the fun that can be had when Hollywood puts big time actors with clever screenwriters and an inventive director. Though this film does not have much going on beneath its surface, the surface alone is quite entertaining to watch, and sometimes that is enough. God willing, Hollywood will keep giving Soderbergh money, so he can continue the series. After all, because “Ocean’s” has made it to 13, it would be a shame for it to not see the other side of puberty.

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