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Ocean’s Thirteen

What are the odds of this one being entertaining?

Truly, 2007 is shaping up to be the "summer of sequels". It’s barely June and we’ve seen Shrek 3, Spiderman 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and now we have yet another installment of the adventures of the 21st century’s ratpack, Ocean’s Thirteen. An lucky number? Perhaps. But, with a cast including the likes of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Matt Damon at the very least we’ve got some good eye candy if nothing else. Fortunately, this one delivers a little bit more than just eye candy.

Danny Ocean’s (George Clooney) mentor Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) partners with Willie Bank (Al Pacino) in launching a casino rivaling anything Las Vegas has ever seen. Problem is that Bank has no intention of "partnering" and screws Reuben. The trauma of this backstabbing lands Reuben in the hospital hovering somewhere between life and death. Danny looking for revenge assembles the crew to take down Bank and his new casino "The Bank" in the heist to end all heists.

Despite the fact that Ocean’s Thirteen is no real departure from Ocean’s Eleven or Ocean’s Twelve, this one does a pretty good job of grabbing your attention from the get go. Really, who can’t get behind a revenge driven heist (particularly when recipient of said revenge is a truly deserving prick)? Pacino is great as the immoral/unethical Bank and you can’t help wanting to see this guy get nailed. Al hasn’t been this nefarious and Machiavellian since he portrayed the anti-christ in The Devil’s Advocate.

Damon, Clooney, and Pitt do their part as dashingly handsome, witty, and otherwise charming crooks that specialize in pulling off heists that would baffle the entire "Mission Impossible" team and yet still cry at particularly poignant episodes of "Oprah". They are complemented well by a motley crew comprised of Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Andy Garcia, and a litany of others. They’re all clever, the best at what they do, and unquestionably loyal to their fallen compatriot, Reuben.

The majority of the film is a detailed overview of the crew engaged in the exhaustive planning stages for pulling off the heist. Director Steven Soderbergh manages to do what he did well in the previous Ocean films and takes what could be a lengthy, boring setup sequence and turns it into a mélange of creative editing, great camera angles, and a fairly humorous middle portion of the film. The tension builds gradually leading to a final act that doesn’t disappoint.

Unfortunately, what is disappointing is that we now have 3 Ocean films and, truthfully, do we really know much of anything about any of these characters (aside from the charming, hunky, witty thing)? This latest effort by Soderbergh is no different. We don’t see these characters evolve or change in any kind of substantive way. But then again, these guys are pretty funny and entertaining. Would you really want any of them to change?

Ocean’s Thirteen is a solid entry into what has become quite a franchise for Steven Soderbergh. Even if you’re tired of sequels Ocean’s Thirteen is more than deserving of a sit through at a relatively brisk 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars