If Ocean’s Thirteen proves anything it’s that revenge is more entertaining than self-preservation. It also proves just how dismal a sequel Ocean’s Twelve was, taking the characters away from their home in Vegas and tossing them around the world. The third movie in the franchise sees the troupe return to Vegas, and a return to the antics and banter that made Ocean’s Eleven so much fun. Truly, this is the sequel the first film deserved.
Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and the rest of his bunch of con-men, thieves, and other tricksters are back for another adventure in Ocean’s Thirteen. Like the first outing, their mission is prompted by revenge after hotel magnate Willie Bank (Al Pacino) screws over one of Ocean’s associates, Reuben (Elliott Gould), in a deal opening a new hotel and casino on the Vegas strip, resulting in a heart attack and near comatose status for Ocean’s pal.
The plan is just different enough from the first film to keep things entertaining: instead of stealing directly from Bank, the group plots to put his casino pay out massively enough in its opening night to ensure Bank won’t turn a profit. Along with ripping off the casino, Ocean and his pals set out to keep the hotel side of the casino from winning the five-diamond award, steal hefty jewelry from Bank’s vault, and even create a small earthquake. Clearly there’s not much the band of rogues wouldn’t do to revenge a friend who has been wronged.
As with the previous outings, the chemistry of the cast is the most entertaining part of the movie. As the clock goes, two-thirds of the movie is actually setup for the story’s main heist, but it doesn’t really feel like it’s a ton of exposition because the cast keeps things entertaining. The story has some nice deviations like the slow torture of a hotel critic (David Paymer) or a revolution at a dice factory in Mexico, but it’s moments that show off the friendship between Ocean and Rusty (Brad Pitt) that really make the movie move along.
Ocean’s Thirteen largely ignores the second movie altogether. Gone is the feud between Ocean and Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), although the tension between the two characters when Danny is forced to turn to his nemesis for help is adequate enough to know the two will never be friends. The only holdover from the second film is the return of Toulour (Vincent Cassel), Benedict’s hired thief. It’s a minor part of the movie, however, and unfamiliar viewers can easily catch on to the affected relationships without revisiting the older movies.
A new movie and a new story means a need for new characters. The most obvious addition is Pacino as Bank, who easily fits into the style and tone of the film. This despicable businessman is the kind of character fans love to see Pacino play, and he makes sure they get the kind of performance they expect. Ellen Barkin plays henchman to Pacino’s character in the form of a cougar who wants nothing more than to see Bank happy. In an even smaller role is Eddie Izzard who steals the show as the tech-savvy Roman Nagel, another associate of Ocean’s. The cast list keeps from being overwhelming with the departure of several of the previously established characters – namely the women, Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta Jones. I guess the silly Roberts plot device in Ocean’s Twelve was even too much for the actress to bear.
Ocean’s Thirteen is a fun heist flick that recaptures the lighthearted enjoyment of the first film. The plot and story are entertaining enough, but the unity and sense of friendship between the team’s members are what pushes the film into the realm of movies that are worth watching over and over again.
It’s a good thing the movie is worth repeated viewings, because it’s really the only thing on this DVD release worth seeing more than once. While the disc isn’t exactly bare-bones, what it does contain is pretty mediocre, and that term can be applied to the movie as well. The transfer of the movie isn’t as high quality as most would like, with a pixilated, grainy look during some of the movies darker scenes.
The main featurette of the DVD, “Vegas: An Opulent Illusion,” really has little to do with Ocean’s Thirteen at all. Using a couple lines from the movie as cues, the featurette looks at the history and evolution of Vegas over time. It’s an interesting look at the city but relatively short at only twenty minutes. If the history of Vegas is of any interest to you, it’s likely you’ve seen something with more substance on the History channel at some point.
“Jerry Weintraub: Walk and Talk” is a two minute look at the set of the movie with facts provided by producer Weintraub (who also puts in an appearance in the film). The commercialism is blatant here, however, as Weintraub states how much he hopes people will see the movie. Clearly this was a promotional tool for the theatrical release because his comments don’t make sense for anyone who has the DVD in their possession.
Finally, there are a couple of deleted scenes on the DVD, most of which are obvious as to why they were cut. Their inclusion here seems only to pacify those who are looking for some actual content on the DVD because there isn’t anything else related to the movie. That’s all the standard edition of the movie holds other than a ton of previews –more than I remember seeing on one DVD in quite a while. What’s really curious is that, among the previews, is a commercial for an interview with Ocean’s composer David Holmes. That would have been a good thing to include on the DVD but instead we only get a commercial for it.
If you pick up the HD DVD / DVD Combo release or Blu-ray edition there is a little more bonus content with a commentary track from director Steven Soderbergh and writers Brian Koppleman and David Levien. Why the commentary wasn’t included on the standard edition is a real stumper. There’s also an added featurette, “Masters of the Heist” which looks at high-tech heists in history, much like the “Vegas” featurette, there’s little to do with the actual movie however. Interestingly, “Masters of the Heist” was also included with the DVD if you purchased a two-disc edition exclusive to Target, although it carried a higher price tag to get.
With very little bonus material associated with the actual movie itself, I can’t help but think Warner Brothers is looking to cash in on another release of Ocean’s Thirteen in the future. This is a huge step down from the opulence of the Ocean’s Eleven DVD (which had two commentaries and a decent amount of bonus material). The movie is worth checking out this release, but you might want to hold off on actually purchasing it until you’re sure this is the only version coming out.