Saturday, June 21, 2008

Movie Review: Ocean's Thirteen

Worse than the first, better than the second, and a fairly tepid end to this series. Really, if this was the best they could come up with plot-wise, then it's hard to see inspiration striking for an Ocean's Fourteen. Ocean's Eleven was a nice little caper film - the audience got to see enough of the plot to know what was happening, but not so much as to give away how things would work. Ocean's Twelve, on the other hand, seemed to get really bogged down in execution, without giving us much of a view of how things would work - it was more seat-of-the-pants, at least on screen. By the end, we discover that the whole thing was in fact planned out, but not in a way that the audience could possibly know about. And then it got all dragged down with the whole "Julia Roberts playing Julia Roberts" sub-plots; she has been the least part of both of the first two films, and her absence here in the third one was not missed at all.

Ocean's Thirteen has kind of the opposite problem - we see a lot of preparation, but not much execution. In fact, it's kind of hard to see how some of the execution happened at all; what exactly was the purpose of getting Bernie Mac onto the floor with his dominos game? When did all of Livingston's work on the blackjack shufflers come into play? Why did he need to get arrested by the fake FBI man? Why did Eddie Izzard need to be in on this deal at all - just to get the number of people to 13?

It all seemed fairly random, but since the point was just "make Willy Bank lose some money", I guess they thought it was OK. The one actual target - Bank's diamonds - had in many ways the worst planning. It relied on the chemicals taking effect, Ellen Barkin's character suggesting going upstairs instead of anywhere else in the hotel, knowing that Benedict would try to double-cross them - just too many variables. It was a con that didn't really fit in very well with the rest of the movie, and seems to have just been in there to give Matt Damon a scene to do.

In the end, this was just a set of scenes, some of which worked, some didn't. There wasn't really much cohesion to the overall movie. The cast continues to work together well, with the Malloy brothers stealing every scene they were in. But otherwise, this was a fairly pedestrian effort in a series that has seen better days. Three stars.

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