Review in a Hurry: Better than the original? Could it possibly be? Maybe 13 is a lucky number, after all. Danny Ocean & Co. strike it rich in a smart, snappy third installment of Steven Soderbergh's heist flicks.
The Bigger Picture: Ocean’s Eleven was sophisticated fun, the result of a top director lending visual flair to a smooth-talking comedy.
Word of on-set practical jokes between the macho stars lent an air of "we're just making this movie for fun," and the vibe shows on film. But maybe the cast and crew were having too much fun during the sequel, Ocean’s Twelve, because the whole effort seemed phoned in, with its stale, dour feel and locations in ancient, soot-coated Europe. Europe!? C'mon, these guys scream Vegas.
Thirteen plops our guys back where they belong: in Sin City. Ringleader Ocean (George Clooney), partner in crime Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) and their loyal crew assemble to exact revenge on behalf of their ailing friend and mentor, Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould, chewing the scenery in a perfect performance). Reuben has his heart broken when business partner Willie Bank (Al Pacino) double-crosses him in the process of building his next gigantic hotel-casino called...the Bank.
Ocean's gang uses Willie's gigantic ego against him in an elaborate plot to ruin the Bank's grand opening. Each twist and turn plays out crisply, with rarely a dull expositional moment. The fascinating preparation and ingenious execution of Ocean's big swindle delivers the smart caper we expect. But this time around, the filmmakers added heart. The group has gelled into a band of brothers, thieving in the name of friendship. Add a continual collection of laugh-out-loud moments, and you have an Ocean that fulfills the promise of all this great talent.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Okay, it's a little too smug and clever for its own good. And yes, there are plenty of moments that completely try all logic. So be sure to shut off your brain before stepping inside—analytical types, you've been warned!