"Ocean's Thirteen" continues to mine for box office gold with the formula of sexy mega-stars (George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon) and slick mega-heists. And this time, they're back in the megalopolis of Vegas, baby.
In this latest installment, Ocean and company, upon learning that their mentor Reuben (Elliot Gould) has been swindled by competitor Willy Bank (Al Pacino), set off to bring Willy to his knees on the opening night of his new casino on The Strip. Their revenge scheme involves rigged dice, rigged slot machines, a simulated earthquake and the elaborate theft of Willy's jewels.
Amusing subplots include Damon's Linus Caldwell (with a fake nose that nicely tweaks his entire appearance) seducing Willy's assistant played wonderfully by Ellen Barkin and the incessant hassling of an unlucky hotel and casino critic played by David Paymer. These diversions provide a few chuckles, partly because there's not a whole lot going on plotwise. Soderbergh's direction does keep everything moving at a breezy pace, but what's noticeable about "Ocean's Thirteen," however, is how underutilized its talented stars are.
It's nice to see Clooney, Pitt and Damon in the same scene but the conspicuous lack of snap and sparkle renders it no more than a photo opportunity. There's also no real conflict in the film. Our lads' aims to humiliate Willy meet little resistance. And our heroes are so cheeky and smug that I started feeling sorry for silly Willy. It's all just a bit too easy for our shiny golden boys who come off unscratched.
There's an ocean of talent in front of and behind the camera here, but you barely know it judging from this film alone. What "Ocean's Thirteen" really feels like is some kind of movie vacation for three stars and a director who were in between projects that were probably, hopefully, a little more taxing than this one.