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Ocean’s Thirteen

Nicola Mostyn loses her shoes over the latest Ocean’s instalment.

Published on June 11th 2007.

Ocean’s Thirteen

Have you ever known you’ve seen a film but just can’t remember what you thought of it? I had that problem with Ocean’s Twelve. I’d definitely seen it. I’d even reviewed it so I can certainly claim to have had an opinion. I just couldn’t remember what it was. This suggested one of two things: either I’m going senile or the film wasn’t any great shakes. So I re-read my review and it turns out it’s the latter. Apparently I thought the film had “no tension”, “a flimsy plot” and was “ambling.” Must be someone else putting my shoes in the refrigerator, then.

“As long as you suspend two thirds of your brain cells, it’s really rather enjoyable.”

Having established this, I can announce that Ocean’s Thirteen is a better film than its predecessor, which is very much like being the best dressed man at a vagrant’s ball.

For those who have thus far avoided the Ocean’s films – and even the 1960s original, you heathen individuals – the Ocean in question is Danny Ocean, a Las Vegas gangster with a head for heists and eleven or so buddies who are only too keen to pitch in and help.

This time the crew, including Rusty (Brad Pitt), Linus (Matt Damon) and Basher (Don Cheadle with a rather dubious English accent) have regrouped to avenge Reuben (Elliot Gould), who’s been ripped off by Casino boss William Bank (Al Pacino), the shock of which has given him a heart attack. The notable absence of Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones in this threequel is explained in the opening scenes by Danny’s terse reiteration, “It’s not their fight.” Seems that this time it’s a job for the boys.

Attributing the basis for this elaborate and expensive con job to simple love for their fellow hustler is, of course, completely ridiculous but the gang’s motivation thus simplified leaves the complexities to come in where they work best - in the increasingly innovative tricks the boys pull to ensure that Willy Bank’s casino pays out big and so goes bust.

And, as long as you suspend two thirds of your brain cells, it’s really rather enjoyable. The cast are in good form, their insouciance and occasionally offbeat dialogue playing appealingly against your expectations of sharp-suited gangster types, and there are some lovely daft moments such as when one of the thirteen goes to infiltrate a Mexican dice factory and ends up leading a workers’ revolt.

Plot-wise, it’s simply a case of watching as the team carry out the plan pretty much as agreed - rigging the tables, loading the dice, infiltrating the staff, evading the super hi-tech security system and stiffing Bank’s chance of getting another coveted Five Diamond review - which they do with plenty of light-hearted humour, buckets of style and the sort of sumptuous cinematography you’d expect from a Steven Soderbergh film. Not exactly edge-of-your-seat stuff though and if you think about it too long it does seem an awful waste of so many top-drawer actors.

Actually, it reminded me of an episode of the A Team. The gang get together, they’re all good guys at heart, they’ve got all these in-jokes and friendly rivalries and you have a soft spot for the characters so you forgive them for the fact that there’s just no way that they could construct a tank from two dustbin lids and some heavy duty chicken wire. After all, doesn’t everyone love it when a plan comes together?

Having said that, there’s a very good chance that when Ocean’s Fourteen inevitably rolls around I’ll be scratching my head and saying “Yeah, I saw the last one. Now….did I like it or not? And, never mind that, where the chuff did I put those shoes?”

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