Ocean’s Thirteen

Okay, I realize this is going to be a total blockbuster. If you sit quietly for a moment, you can probably hear the distant ‘ka-ching’ of this film raking in the ticket money. The problem is, I’m not exactly the best person to be reviewing it. I did see Ocean’s 11 (both versions, actually), but that was a long time ago. And I didn’t like either all that much, so I didn’t watch Ocean’s 12. Frankly, 11 was already so crowded, I thought adding one more star would make the movie implode or something. And… I don’t like George Clooney. Yes, I am female. I just don’t think he’s particularly handsome or charming. I read something once where they compared him (favorably!) to Cary Grant, and nearly fainted on the spot. Those of you who don’t understand what I mean need to go watch Notorious.
I’m also kind of indifferent to Brad Pitt. Both he and George Clooney seem like good enough actors, though I’ve only ever seen them playing the same kinds of parts all the time. I guess if you’re good at it, stick with it… However, on the major plus side, this film does have Matt Damon in it. Yummy. If they ever do an Ocean’s 14 (which I have to pray they won’t, because that film really would implode), then they need to give Matt much, much more screen time. Seriously.
Okay, to the plot: One of the original Eleven, Reuben (Elliot Gould, wearing glasses that look like they should make him fall on his nose) has been double-crossed and generally taken to the cleaners by his partner in a new casino, Willy Bank (Al Pacino, and I can hardly believe that they’ve already made two of these movies without him). Danny Ocean and friends, of course, can’t let this slide. But Bank is a high roller — a really, really high roller, so he’s hard to tackle. Not that this stops our heroes, of course. Bank’s weakness? His ego, which is probably true for anyone who’s ever earned more than four or five million dollars in his or her life. I hate to think what a Vegas billionaire’s ego is like.

See, the poster’s already at critical mass, and I only count twelve people.

Now, this is of necessity a huge scheme. The plan they settle on is to sabotage Bank’s casino on opening night by rigging the games — not so the team wins, but just so the house loses — which must be easier than trying to get one person to win, but still a daunting task. They work out ways to rig each game individually, mostly retreating back to old-fashioned methods like weighted roulette balls because the casino is so high-tech. But the real problem is the supercomputer security system, Greco, named for its creator, Greco Montgomery (played by Julian Sands, who I also wish would’ve had more screen time). Greco monitors all the games down to the last detail, and it’s so high-tech, it’s an A.I. It thinks and reasons.
Just a bit of an aside: I don’t think they used nearly so many gadgets in the first film of this trilogy, though I may be misremembering — all I remember for sure is that Matt was a shy pickpocket. (He’s still shy here, but he seems to have forgotten how to pick pockets.) But you should not only suspend your disbelief for this film, you should probably send it over to a different movie. They have gadgets for everything. X-ray machines that look like a piece of cloth, magnetrons that look like cell phones — they even have some sort of super-pheremone-releasing thing that’s applied as a patch to the skin, and apparently can make anyone turn into a raving sex machine. They make Matt use that last one on Ellen Barkin, who plays Bank’s right-hand woman, Abigail Sponder, though I don’t see why. Silly fake nose or no silly fake nose, he’s still Matt Damon.
So they figure out ways to rig all the games, and, since they can’t outwit Greco, they decide to do the next best thing, which is to force it to reboot, thus allowing them somewhere around two minutes to make the house lose big. That doesn’t seem like much time, but in Vegas, it’s enough. This requires more gadgets, of course, including one that has to be maneuvered into place on a semi, and, well, it all gets wilder from there. That’s without even mentioning the contrived side plot where Virgil (Casey Affleck, who has a very bizarre part to play here but still does much better than his brother ever could) starts a labor movement in a Mexican plastics manufacturing company. I told you it was contrived.
You have to remember that there just had to be all kinds of fun references to past movies that I didn’t catch, so people familiar with the first two will probably enjoy this one even more. Still, even for me, it was a fun, energetic sort of film — you know a gadget will save the day, but how can they possibly do it in time? It’s a lot like a Bond movie in that respect, and the superspy himself wouldn’t have been out of place here. There’s a lot going on, lots of faces you recognize, all the glitz you can handle, and more misdirection than any Vegas magic act.
So three and a quarter idols for me, but if you like George Clooney, then you should probably consider it three and a half idols. It’s pretty much all flash and no substance, but the flash is so good you don’t mind much. I do hope, though, that the movie’s way off base in how it portrays the safety standards at Las Vegas hotels, or one of these days, we may lose an entire generation of high rollers and Texas Hold-Em’ champs to just one little earthquake.