Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino
Direction: Steven Soderbergh
Rating: * * * & 1/2
Smart can be silly. Nice guys can be cunning devils. A movie with a predictable end can still keep you guessing all the way. And new-age swagger is at its fiendish best when delicious, old-world languor is in the air.
That’s the deal with Ocean’s world: Paradox is the only constant here. In fact, this very bog of ironies gives Steve Soderbergh’s con carnival an edge in Hollywood’s age of FX-ridden, blood-spilling heist fests. It’s worked twice before. It works again, with Ocean’s Thirteen.
So, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and the boys have a new mission. One that pitches the power of Clooney’s cool, Brad’s strut and Matt Damon’s maverick opposite a monster box-office draw that goes by the name of Al Pacino.
Give it to Soderbergh — the guy has a flair for signing these guest stars. If the Julia Roberts appeal doubled the ticket counter lure for Ocean’s Twelve, Pacino with shark teeth is prime garnishing for the new film.
Pacino is Willy Bank, ruthless Vegas casino millionaire, who has swindled one of Ocean’s original eleven (Elliot Gould), with one audacious grab-it-all blow. Danny, Rusty (Brad Pitt), Linus (Damon) and the gang vow to get even. Their plan: to loot Bank’s latest, swankiest casino in Vegas on its opening night. The catch: the casino is monitored by a state-of-the-art device that can detect the slightest hint of cheating at the tables.
In all this, Andy Garcia returns as Ocean’s old enemy Terry Benedict from Twelve. Benedict agrees to finance the gang’s costly plan at getting even, simply because he hates Bank. But he has his own terms, which will make the whole game even more dangerous. Things are, of course, not as straight as they seem. With Benedict involved, there will be an undercurrent line of deceit — all of which will pack a merry punch to the finalé.
Ocean’s Thirteen scores with the gang’s inherent camaraderie, as it does with the witty, unflappable cool of its characters and plot. Soderbergh takes some time to build the tempo, but he executes it well with a certain, nonchalant ease. The film itself is one irreverent trick — just like Matt Damon’s funny latex nose. Check it out, you’ll know what I mean.