Ladies and gentlemen, the name of the game is sabotage. It’s a wonderful thing when the third installment is just as good (arguably better) than the opening numbers. Ocean’s Thirteen sprints down the Las Vegas strip with nothing but a top hat, bunny slippers, and a kickass plan. If the team gets stuck they cheat a little to get unstuck. Snap the fingers and it is done. This doesn’t mean, however, that we are lacking in the details. Ocean’s Thirteen delivers the same amount of planning layers as Ocean’s Eleven, covering all the bases and making even the screw-ups look like victories. Every character that has a reason for being back is back, and the good times just keep on rolling.
This time it’s not about a huge score or a desperate bailout; this time is about revenge. Ocean’s Thirteen opens with beloved loud-mouth, Reuben (Elliott Gould), suffering a major betrayal and heart attack at the hands of hotel/casino owner, Willy Bank (Al Pacino). Coming together over what may soon be Reuben’s deathbed, the guys agree to pay Bank back in kind. The ideas start spinning and we are thrown head first into a complex scheme to steal $500,000,000 from Bank on the opening night of his new casino. With a loss as big as this, Bank’s sparkly new investment wouldn’t be able to support itself, and the glitter-encrusted doors would have to close permanently. From subterranean tunneling to base-jumping heights, no angles are overlooked in Ocean’s Thirteen, and each one is hilarious, sneaky, and vengefully sweet.
What makes this sequel different from the other two? Instead of stealing some alone-time with a safe like in Ocean’s Eleven or infiltrating a museum à la Ocean’s Twelve, Danny (George Clooney) and his team come at this heist from the front of house. Card shufflers are rigged, loaded dice are cast, and the ‘right people’ are bribed into giving certain guests the worst hotel stay of their lives. All this to make Bank’s life a living hell. There are multiple schemes in this movie that all swing a hefty left hook at Bank’s… bank. Our quirky team hit a few snags, obviously, but find their feet again with the most creative detours that make Plan B even more entertaining than the original Plan A.
With all of these overlapping plots does anything go missing? A few characters, yes. Julia Roberts is notably absent, as is any reference to Rusty’s (Brad Pitt) girlfriend from Ocean’s Twelve. But when you don’t need them, why add them in? Few female allies mean the guys are more concentrated on the stealing, the bribing, the underhandedness, and the SABOTAGE!
The Ocean’s trilogy is famous for good old fashioned thieving without the unnecessary backstory – a definite plus with so many characters to juggle. A quick line here or there effectively cements the character in the now while alluding to a complex history known only to the script writer’s subconscious. The biggest player in this game of mysterious motivation is Virgil (Casey Affleck) and his life at the Mexican dice factory. His thirst for revolution (or the outlet for his argumentative side) nearly flips the table on their whole plan. But we never see more than the headlines. And we certainly never know more than Danny.
The Ocean’s trilogy is a masterful combination of humour, clever writing, innovative cinematography, and priceless relationships. I still feel like these guys get together every year on one specific, unremarkable day to smoke cigars, reminisce about old times, and bask in each other’s awesomeness. Ocean’s Thirteen is a genius heist film with a clear villain and an army of dubious thieves dead set on spoiling his perfect day. Ocean’s Thirteen, like Ocean’s Eleven, is a 9/10.