Hollywood’s smoothest criminals return to the Vegas strip for one last huge heist in the enjoyable, “Ocean’s Thirteen.” While this film is much better than its predecessor, “Twelve,” it also reminds us that this ultra-talented group needs to stop while the going is good.
After a successful European heist in the last film, Danny Ocean’s (George Clooney) crew disbanded and each member is living the high life. Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) is sealing a deal with Willy Bank (Al Pacino) that will make him co-owner of the most glamorous new casino on the Vegas strip. In the blink of an eye, Bank goes “Michael Corleone” on Tishkoff, double-crossing the bewildered Tishkoff. This betrayal gets back to Danny and he reassembles his “eleven” to take revenge against Bank.
The casino, “The Bank,” is a five-diamond spectacular towering over the strip, which serves as the ultimate takedown target in this well-executed adventure. There is no way to explain the many various layers that this large ensemble employs to take down Bank. Let’s just say they involve rigging dice in Mexico, buying two machines that dig huge canals, borrowing money from Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), from whom they stole money in “Eleven,” the most severe case of hotel abuse caught on screen.
The direction by Steven Soderbergh benefits greatly with the crew’s return to familiar turf in Vegas. The many elements mixed together in this cinematic heist stew all succeed because of the genuine chemistry between the talented cast. But this film and its predecessors all belong to both Clooney and Brad Pitt. They play off each other in ways that only two people who share many interests in common can. Their scenes together crackle with humor, electricity and insight on how all of the film’s elaborate plans are designed, conceived and ultimately executed.
Another joy in exploring “Thirteen” was watching the re-teaming of several actors from other films. There is the “Godfather 3” reunion featuring Corleone family members, Pacino and Garcia; “Sea of Love” co-stars Ellen Barkin and Pacino; as well as worthy French counterpart, François Toulour (Vincent Cassell) returning from “Twelve.
While the film starts off strong, it bears a striking resemblance and tone to “Eleven.” It is fitting that almost five decades ago, the coolest cats on the Vegas strip were Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., who took the opportunity to have fun making a film while performing their racy club act in wee hours of the night. The multi-millionaire’s Boy’s club and their three films have fittingly honored the legacy of the Rat Pack. Let’s hope that this film marks the end of Ocean’s adventure and that there will not be “Fourteen” reasons to bring them back.