Sunday, June 10, 2007

Movie Review: Ocean's Thirteen

It's a little hard to totally review the movie without giving much of it away. Besides, most people will just be comparing it to the first two movies anyway. So, what follows is less of a review and more of a primer on the *many* characters in the movie and how it compares to Ocean's 11 & 12.

Ocean's Thirteen


In Brief: What's Good

  • Almost as witty as the first movie.

  • Probably the funniest in the trilogy.

  • Solid plot that is fairly complex but still understandable with several nice payoffs at the end.

  • Funny subplot involving the Malloy brothers in Mexico.

  • The action, humor, and suspense in the entire third act make the slow build-up in the beginning and middle worth it

In Brief: What's Not So Good

  • The pacing & intensity are a just little off in the beginning & parts of the middle.

In Brief: Comparisons to Ocean's 11 & 12

  • Less use of Shaobo Qin's acrobatic & contortionist skills.

  • Downplays the running joke that Shaobo Qin's character Yen can understand English and that everyone else can understand when he speaks Chinese.

  • Brad Pitt's character Rusty Ryan is not seen eating in almost every scene, as in 11 & 12.

  • Fewer cameos & celebrity in-jokes; only one in the trilogy in which Topher Grace (That '70's Show, Spider-Man 3) does not have a cameo appearance as himself.


In the third installment of the Ocean's trilogy, the gang must get revenge on a crooked hotel & casino tycoon Willie Bank when one of their own falls victim to his betrayal. This time their primary goal is not to steal money or valuables but to ruin the opening night of Bank Hotel & Casino. To do this, they must: (1) Rig the gambling machines such that Bank loses a ton of money from legitimate, unsuspecting gamblers, (2) Ruin the hotel's critical review, and (3) Steal Bank's valuable five-diamond awards (not for themselves but to fulfill an adamant stipulation from an unexpected business partner).

The 13 of Ocean's team are:

[1] & [2] George Clooney and Brad Pitt return as Danny Ocean and Rusty Ryan, the co-leaders of the group. With no Julia Robert or Catherine Zeta Jones in this movie, the boys are unimpaired from female concerns and are able to concentrate on the tasks at hand. They assemble the team, devise the plan, and do a little bit of everything else from reconnaisance to undercover work.

[3] Elliott Gould plays Reuben Tishkoff, the guy who usually "bankrolls" the team's operations. This time, Reuben is betrayed by Willie Bank when Willie pushes Reuben out of the their partnership on a new hotel & casino. Reuben suffers a heart attack and spends much of the movie on bed rest while the rest of the team avenges him.

[4] Matt Damon plays Linus Caldwell, the professional pick-pocket who comes from a family of thieves and con-men. This time around, Yen and Linus go undercover as a wealthy Chinese tycoon and his personal assistant. In the personal assistant costume, Linus wears a fake nose and suit that makes him look like Dr. Evil. Linus's job is to get to Bank's personal assistant, Abagail Sponder, and use her to get to the room where Bank keeps his five-diamond awards of excellence.

[5] Don Cheadle plays Basher Tarr, the team's big-picture thinker and science expert. This time, Basher's task is ensuring an exit strategy, which he plans to do by faking a natural disaster inside the hotel & casino. Like much of the rest of the team, Basher also gets a chance to go undercover in costume to cause a momentary distraction.

[6] & [7] Scott Caan & Casey Affleck play Turk & Virgil Malloy (a.k.a. "the Mormon twins"). They usually specialize in driving, remote control gadgets, subterfuge, distraction, etc. This time, they go undercover at a plastics manufacturing plant in Mexico to make sure the dice for Bank's opening night are rigged.

[8] Bernie Mac plays Frank Catton, the team's inside man. Similar to his role in the first film, Frank gets hired as a dealer in the casino where he can help out with reconaissance and rigging.

[9] Carl Reiner plays Saul Bloom, the team's senior expert at going undercover. Saul pretends to be a hotel & casino critic, ensuring the team that Bank will not be winning his usual five-diamond award of excellence.

[10] Eddie Jemison plays Livingston Dell, the team's electronics expert. Livingston is responsible for rigging the machines so that Willie Bank will lose a lot of money in a brief period of time.

[11] Shaobo Qin plays Yen, the team's "grease man" who usually specializes in infiltrating places using his small stature and acrobatic & contortionist skills. This time, Yen goes undercover as a wealthy Chinese gambler staying at Bank's hotel so that the team can gain access to a special room and the elevator system.

[12] Eddie Izzard plays Roman Nagel, the new guy who is brought in as a consultant on security. Roman helps Danny & Rusty figure out how to beat the unbeatable security system invented by Roman's old college rival Greco Montgomery.

[13] Andy Garcia plays Terry Benedict, the team's former enemy who they bring in to help finance the operation, since Reuben got cheated out of his money, and Willie Bank is a mutual rival of Terry too.

Playing the bad guys this time around are Al Pacino as the disloyal hotel & casino tycoon Willie Bank and his personal assistant Abagail Sponder, played by Ellen Barkin.

Also making special appearances or cameos are David Paymer as the actual hotel & casino critic (for whom Saul takes his place), Bob Einstein (a.k.a. Super Dave Osborne) as a Nevada gaming agent, the film's real life producer Jerry Weintraub as a gambler, and Oprah Winfery as herself. There is also one brief connection to the 2nd movie, but I'll leave that as a surprise.

This was a good, solid, fun film. When I got home, I re-watched the first two movies on DVD, and I'd have to say that Ocean's 11 is still, unsurprisingly the best. And, while Ocean's 13 is 2nd best by a close margin, Ocean's 12 is not as bad as people make it out to be either. Overall, this is a great trilogy, and 13 was the best way to cap it off (unless of course there would ever actually be an Ocean's 14--unlikely, but who knows).

Here's my comparison analysis of all three movies, using dice to score each category:

Category Ocean's...
11 12 13
Character Screentime Balance
Visual Style
Celebrity In-Jokes/Cameos
Total 61 56 59


Kenny said...

Wow. Great review and what a comprehensive round up of all the characters!

J_Jammer said...

Like the use of cards there and dice. Creative. The break down was nice as well of what it had in compared to the other two previous films. Nice job. Now I have to see what you said about The Waitress.

Mitch Emerson said...

You have much more patience and creativity when it comes to your reviews. As far as the movie is concerned, I think I had high expectations. Plus, it has been a long time since seeing the other two.

Chris Knight said...

That's one of the most original reviews of a movie that I've ever seen! I might have to go see this tomorrow :-)