Friday, June 8, 2007

Ocean's Thirteen

The disappointing string of early summer popcorn flicks ends here. Ocean’s Thirteen shines through; I know it’s early June, but so far, Ocean’s Thirteen is the best film of the early summer season.

The first two films of the series centered around love stories. Danny (George Clooney) winning back Tess (Julia Roberts) and Rusty (Brad Pitt) reconnecting with his old love (Catherine Zeta Jones). Without the two actresses the film moves solely into a guy’s movie. This is a film about friendship, loyalty, and revenge. As Danny himself says early on Tess and Isabel don’t belong, it’s not their fight. And it’s true.

The film opens, with some odd flashbacks and flashforwards, telling the tale how Reuben (Elliot Gould) was duped by a business partner (Al Pacino) and lost his partnership in a new casino. The gang all return to Las Vegas to Reuben’s bedside committed to ruining the grand opening of the casino and bringing down the man that hurt their friend.

The film is a mix of the first two films. There’s one big score and plenty of planning like Ocean’s Eleven (read the review). And there are also the more humorous and off-beat moments that made Ocean’s Twelve (read the review) such a joy.

Everything you enjoyed from the first two films is back including Danny and Rusty’s personal dialogues, Linus’s (Matt Damon) need to be more involved, the technical expertise of Livingstone (Eddie Jemison) and Roman (Eddie Izzard), the mechanical engineering of Basher (Don Cheadle), the stunts of Yen (Shaobo Qin), and the bickering of Turk (Scott Caan) and Virgil (Casey Afflleck).

This far into a series you might expect these bits to get old, yet director Steven Soderbergh and writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien come up with a way to make everything feel fresh and new but still familiar and enjoyable. And it’s just so damn cool!

Added to this formula are Al Pacino as a terrific new villain and Ellen Barkin as his assistant. I was uncertain of Barkin’s casting going in, but the scenes between her and Damon are terrific. And her character’s inclusion provides one of the film’s funniest moments when Linus tries to explain “cougars” to the group and asks for the responsibility of seducing her.

The only negative I can come up with about the film is the opening segments which are a little confusing with flashforwards and flashbacks trying to set-up the plot of the film. It’s just a bit too fragmented. Once these are over, however, the film kicks into high gear and never looks back.

The film personifies cool in every frame. This is why I go to big budget summer flicks, and sit through countless turkeys, to be engaged and enthralled and have one hell of a good time. Fans who didn’t like Ocean’s Twelve should feel more at home, but those who enjoyed both previous films are in for a real treat as it blends the best qualities of both films and gives us a sequel worth watching.

No comments: