Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Ocean's Thirteen - Review by Robert Duffin

Director: Steven Soderberg
Screenwriters: Brian Koppelman and David Levien
Runtime: 122min
Certificate: PG
Release date: 8th of June

Steven Soderbergh is a somewhat anomalous creative force in Hollywood. Since his glorious year 2000 one-two punch of Traffic and Erin Brokovich he has adopted the mantra of ‘one for the studio, one for me.’ Yet, unlike most of these new auteurs that walk the fine line, it’s his studio efforts that shine. I’d take Out of Sight over Solaris any day. So here we have Ocean’s Thirteen, third film in the starry A-list franchise, and after the misjudged Ocean’s Twelve and the insipid Good German it’s great to have Soderbergh back on form.

Ocean’s Twelve was packed full of irritating in-jokes and a nonsensical globe hopping plot but here we are back to basics, back to Vegas and most importantly back to the audience having as much fun as the cast. This time Danny Ocean (George Clooney) rounds up the gang to go to the aid of old friend Reuben (Elliot Gould) who has been double-crossed out of a chunk of change by devious casino magnate Willie Bank (Al Pacino). They plan to get even by rigging a seemingly impregnable casino on opening night, forcing Bank to pay out big time to his customers and crippling his empire.

Soderbergh pulls out all the stops and Ocean’s Thirteen is wonderful to watch as a result. He employs 60s style multiple split screens alongside contemporary shaky-cam sequences all adding to the razzle dazzle of the glittering visuals. Las Vegas has never looked better and it’s good be back on the casino floor as Soderbergh’s roving camera links all his protagonists together in a seamless fashion, making cool look easy. His wit and humour are also back in full flow. Rusty (Brad Pitt) walking in on Danny trying to hide his tears from watching Oprah Winfrey is a great moment, as is Clooney’s eye rolling at the hackneyed mantra “I was born ready” of Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia).

There are still a few problems here. The plot becomes quite confusing as the caper unfolds. Sometimes the albeit glorious plans and disguises are to an unknown end but it’s such a fun ride you’ll forgive screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien for getting tangled in their plot threads. Ocean’s Thirteen is pure fluff and wants nothing more than to give you a good time, which it achieves. Soderbergh crafts wonderful nostalgia with current technique so well I wish he’d do it more often. It’s one for the studio, but it’s also one for those who seek out superior cinematic entertainment.

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