| The Red Right Hand
I rather enjoyed the 1960 film, Ocean's Eleven; I even really enjoyed the 2001 re-make. The 2004 sequel, Ocean's Twelve was pretty pants and bar the overall slick, carefree style, it hardly seemed worth the effort. So now Soderbergh has taken another stab at the caper genre with the sequentially titled Ocean's Thirteen. The writers have now gained stock status, realising that the selling point of the film is not necessarily the script or the setup but snappy dialogue between Brad Pitt and George Clooney. As long as you combine that with classy suits and dodgy moustaches, you'll have a hit. Despite the flop that Ocean's 12 should have been, it still made a boat-load of cash and seemed pretty well accepted.
The first problem is the cast; you would have thought actors of this calibre would be one of the strong points of the film but they're really not. The reason I have highlighted them is because almost none of them (bar Al Pacino) are required to act, they simply play themselves; albeit grossly stylised. The plot is fairly simple too, casino owner and friend to the Ocean crowd, Reuben Tishkoff [Elliott Gould] is hospitalised after the immense shock of being screwed over by other famous, wealthy casino owner (and general screwer-overer-kinda-guy), Willie Bank [Pacino]. As an act of vengeance, the lads (that's right, no ladies this time; although, the lack of Julia Roberts is a positive in my book) decide to teach that no-good Bank a lesson. How? By destroying his livelihood, that's how! Unlike the majority of caper flicks, their plans are never really discussed, just played out and double-crossed so that the audience has a brief sense of dread; could things possibly go pear-shaped? Nah, everything will be fine; look at how slick those guys are. They don't panic... actually, they don't. They don't even sweat. Even when issues present themselves that would call for them to walk away, losing millions of millions of dollars, their nonchalance is overwhelming. Doesn't anyone remember the end of the 60's original? They don't get the money but they're still friends and still scoundrels! It was a brilliant film! Why can't we have an element of necessity, why are they all rolling in endless cash? But isn't that really what we're trying to achieve here, a group of cool guys, looking cool, doing cool things to devious guys with more cash than them with absurd consequences? Of course, we're the age of reality TV shows like The Hills and The Simple Life, we like to see spoilt rich types having fun; well, not all of us.
The main plan would appear to be creating a fake earthquake with one of the drills that dug the channel tunnel, to shut down a super security computer, so that they can successfully cheat and cause Banks to lose all his money. Stupid. Getting a giant, 600 tonne drill under the Las Vegas strip; that alone would be a film worth watching. Certain elements of the film are pretty classy and well worth watching but most of the time it all happens with so much ease and convenience, exactly according to plan - revealed to the audience or not - that it becomes tedious to watch; like a family slideshow of a holiday to Clacton. The screening I attended was a high-definition digital feature. I have attended quite a few now and the few that stood out the most were Pan's Labyrinth, Man Cheng Jin Dai Huang Jin Jia and 300; three beautiful films, accentuated by the crisp, image flooded picture. I had expected this to be another perfect example, with lavish sets, clothes and scenery; I was greatly disappointed. Although the cinematography was impressive, the hues seemed off. During the four-week-earlier flashback, both Pacino and Gould have extremely yellow faces. Those without tans seem rather pale and those with seem either brown or a sickly jaundice yellow - it was all very distracting.
All-in-all, this Ocean's sequel is an improvement over the last, which is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, until the screenwriters return to the early days of the series, where con men were caught and suffered the consequences, where the dames double-crossed as much as the guys and the money was never really in anyone's hand until the final moment, we can expect another poorly played-out, two hour, self important, over-stylised romp, coming to cinemas 2009.
8th June 2007
The Scene To Look Out For:
Let's see, there was a partly interesting moment in Mexico, which made the whole money-spending frivolity seem quite meaningless and stupid (which it is) but it's dismissed in a very American way:
Rusty: "They're holding out for $36,000"
Ocean: "How many workers?"
Livingstone: "That's nearly seven million."
Rusty: "No, not $36,000 per person; $36,000."
Frank: "That's three dollars a week"
Rusty: "But still a 5% pay rise"
Ocean: "We'll just cut them a cheque"
Brilliant, address the issue of Mexicans working as little above slave labour, the rights for a safe and healthy environment to work in or even the opportunity to correct a terrible wrong? Nah, screw it. We've got a casino owner to annoy! Throw a small amount of money at them so they can get back to work!
The two most notable performances came from Al Pacino, as the ruthless, success-hungry casino owner and Andy Garcia, returning as Terry Benedict - another casino mogul. Both played their unscrupulous roles with ease and a seemingly personal delight. Although I can't deduce why, I also enjoyed the performances of Casey Affleck and Scott Caan as the Malloy brothers; granted they're not the material of their respected relatives (Ben Affleck and James Caan) but they were still entertaining.
"It's not their fight"
In A Few Words:
"In true 2007 three-quel style, Ocean's Thirteen entertains but doesn't really hit the mark"