Friday, June 08, 2007

Zaki's Review: Ocean's Thirteen

After two prior capers, one above-average, one mediocre, I'm sure it elicited more than a few eye-rolls when it was announced that director Stephen Soderberg and star George Clooney would once again re-assemble their Hollywood who's-who cast for one more dip into the Ocean's well.

Following on the heels of Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, and the inexplicably-popular Pirates, Ocean's Thirteen marks the fourth three-quel to hit theaters in just over a month, and it's probably the one that most had to justify its existence. Happily, Soderbergh and Co. return to fine form in this third entry, making for a crackling summer entertainment that far eclipses this year's other sequels for sheer enjoyability.

Insofar as the story is concerned, the long and short of it is that Danny Ocean (Clooney) reunites his motley crew of ne'er-do-wells (Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, et al.) when one of their own, Ruben Tishkoff (Elliout Gould), is swindled out of his share of a Vegas hotel by baddie Willy Bank (Al Pacino, new to the series). This serves as a set-up for more intrigue, tension, and hilarity as Team Ocean plans to square things for their friend, while turning to former nemesis Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) for help.

There's nothing Earth-shattering here. It's not about exploring the hero's dark side or even about exponentially upping the ante from what we've seen before. Rather it's simply a chance to watch this skillful coterie of actors get together once again and do their thing (and do it well).

Make no mistake, the whole enterprise is utterly preposterous from stem to stern, yet somehow it all manages to hang together like a finely-woven tapestry. The repartee sparkles, the heist sequences are appropriately daring and skillful, and the actors, from Clooney through to new additions Pacino and Ellen Barkin, are at the top of their game and all appear to be having a great time.

What Ocean's Thirteen proves is that "escapist" doesn't always have to be synonymous with "dumb." This is escapism in the very best sense of the word. It's light, it's breezy, and it's utterly involving from start to end. How very refreshing. A

1 comment:

Omar A. said...

Since I'm a "bachelor" for 3 weeks we'll have to go see some flicks together...I still haven't seen Spiderman 3, can you believe it? That's a record delay for me for comic book movies. :)