Ocean’s 13

Like pirates, Hollywood con-men tend to be viewed through a distorted lens. The individualistic, rebellious side of the trade is emphasized over the whole criminal bilking people of their life savings thing. Would Danny Ocean rob a widow of her retirement fund? No. Would Rusty Ryan steal your identity and trash your credit rating? Never. These guys are high rollers who only attack arrogant casino owners with mob ties. Anything else is beneath them.

In other words Ocean’s 13 is a fantasy, tailored to our need to root for rebels, people who live outside of the system, and every so often are able to tweak it’s nose. And that’s alright, so long as you keep the Better Business Bureau database bookmarked in your browser.

Because this view of con-men is pure fantasy.

In Ocean’s 13, the third film featuring Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his band of altruistic thieves, one of their number is attacked. Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) enters into a deal with arrogant casino manager with mob ties, Willy Bank (Al Pacino) to open a swanky new casino on the Las Vegas strip. Bank takes Reuben’s money and forces him to sign over his share in the venture. The experience is so traumatic, Reuben has a heart attack. The doctor tells Danny and the gang that Reuben needs something to look forward to, something to make him smile. They figure that ruining Bank’s casino will do the trick.

This edition of the franchise rescues it from the dangerous trend of Ocean’s 12 where they didn’t even bother to make a comprehensible movie. It was just a collection of scenes with a lot of in-jokes.  In 13 all the in-jokes are gone and a comprehensible if complicated plot is in it’s place. There is, however, a disturbing trend toward niceness. Everybody in this group loves and supports each other. It’s the exact same thing that makes the absence of another Lethal Weapon movie so unlamented. It’s not as bad as that yet, but Steven Soderbergh needs to stop this trend too, if he makes another one.

George Clooney is one of the coolest people in the world and he’s so slick in this you almost don’t notice that he doesn’t really do anything. He just does scenes with Pacino where they calmly threaten each other. Brad Pitt, who plays Rusty Ryan, almost a co-leader of the group, is equally as smooth. Matt Damon’s character, Linus Caldwell, the son of a legendary con man who has feelings of inadequacy, has a very nice arc through these three films. The others in the group are beginning to differentiate themselves as well.

Ocean’s 13 is a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon.


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June 2007
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