Monday, May 05, 2014
Directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, Ocean’s Thirteen is the third and final film of the Ocean’s trilogy as Danny Ocean and his team decide to ruin a new casino and its owner in an act of revenge when one of Ocean’s friends gets conned out of his dream and nearly dies of a heart attack. The film is a heist film but also a comedy in which Danny Ocean and his gang return to Las Vegas and make sure a businessman’s premiere night is ruined as they seek the help from an unlikely person. Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Eddie Jemison, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, Andy Garcia, Eddie Izzard, Vincent Cassell, David Paymer, Ellen Barkin, and Al Pacino as Willy Bank. Ocean’s Thirteen is an exhilarating and fun film from Steven Soderbergh.
The film is a revenge tale of sorts when Willy Bank cheats Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) out of his partnership of a casino that leads to Reuben suffering a near-fatal heart attack forcing Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and the rest of the gang to seek vengeance on Bank and ruin his new casino. While it is a simple premise of a revenge/heist film, it’s also a film about brotherhood and loyalty where Ocean and the gang help out one of their own while getting help from an ally of theirs from the past as well as a foe in Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) who also despises Bank and wants the gang to steal some prestigious diamonds that Bank has won. Along the way, the gang that is expanded to thirteen do whatever it takes to ruin the opening night of Bank’s casino and make sure that Reuben gets the chance to be happy again.
The film’s screenplay by Brian Koppelman and David Levien does have a very unique structure where the first half is about Reuben’s heart attack and the gang wanting to get back at Bank for what he did as well as plan the heist and to make sure that Bank loses more than half a billion dollars on opening night. Yet, the stakes are much bigger as the casino known as the Bank gives the gang even bigger challenges as they seek the help of friend Roman Nagel (Eddie Izzard) who learns that his old roommate in Greco Montgomery (Julian Sands) has created an artificial intelligence system that can scope out anyone to see if anything they did in the casino is illegal as the only way to disable it temporarily would be through a natural disaster.
The film’s second half is set on opening night where it’s about the scheme where Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), who poses as an assistant for Yen (Shaobo Quin) who plays a real estate billionaire, would seduce Bank’s assistant Abigail Sponder (Ellen Barkin). Yet, a lot more chaos happens as Virgil and Turk Malloy (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan, respectively) take part in a protest for Mexican workers that would be successful in the scheme while Benedict’s involvement isn’t just funding the gang when they needed money to create a natural disaster. Benedict has a bigger grudge towards Bank who had always prevented him from winning the prestigious Five Diamonds Award as Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner) would pose as a critic of that award while the real critic (David Paymer) would endure the most humiliating moments of his life.
Steven Soderbergh’s direction is very stylish as well as lavish for the way he presents the world of casinos including the one that Bank wants to create as it displays his very egotistical personality. Much of it involves some massive wide shots and some second unit work as the look of the casino from the exterior displays how crazy Bank is as a person in making sure that his casino is the best. Soderbergh adds in a lot of humor not just in the schemes that Danny Ocean and the gang creates but also in how the way the react to certain things and such as Danny becomes sentimental when watching Oprah Winfrey. There’s also a sense of nostalgia in Danny and Rusty (Brad Pitt) who look at what Las Vegas has become as they think about how much Reuben was there for them as they think of him as a father and friend.
In his Peter Andrews alias, Soderbergh’s photography has a lushness in many of its interiors for the scenes at Bank’s casino with its red and yellow while Soderbergh infuses it with a lot of stylish shots to play into that look. Even as the exteriors in Las Vegas and Los Angeles maintains that sense of beauty that is the American West Coat. Still, Soderbergh makes sure that the film is about more than just payback and ruining one man’s life as it’s a film about friendship and honor. Overall, Soderbergh crafts a very enjoyable film about a gang rallying for an ailing friend and go after the man who hurt their friend.
Editor Stephen Mirrone does brilliant work with the editing with its use of montages and stylish cuts to play into the sense of craziness and planning that goes on as well as the humor in the film. Production designer Philip Messina, with set decorator Kristen Toscano Messina and supervising art director Doug J. Meerdink, does fantastic work with the look of the casino from its posh interior setting to the home where Reuben lives. Costume designer Louise Frogley does amazing work with the costumes from the dresses that Sponder wears as well as the clothes that the men wear.
Visual effects supervisor Thomas J. Smith does terrific work with some of the film‘s minimal visual effects such as the cologne that Linus uses to woo Sponder. Sound editor Larry Blake does superb work with the sound from the sound effects in the casino to the way some of the machines sound. The film’s music by David Holmes is excellent for its mixture of jazz and upbeat electronic music while he also supervises the soundtrack to include some jazz classics including songs by Frank Sinatra.
The casting by Debra Zane is great as it features appearances from producer Jerry Weintraub as a friend of the gang, Oprah Winfrey as herself, Bob Einstein as a FBI agent, Noureen DeWulf as a casino expo girl, Olga Sosnovska as the casino manager Rusty bribes, Julian Sands as the artificial intelligence game designer Greco Montgomery, and David Paymer as the unfortunate Five Diamonds Award critic who endures the worst conditions in his stay at Bank’s casino. Vincent Cassel is terrific in reprising his role as Francois Toulour from the second film as he seeks revenge on the gang while Ellen Barkin is wonderful as the very sexy and cunning Abigail Sponder who aids Bank in ensuring that things go well only to become seduced by Linus in his character. Al Pacino is excellent as Willy Bank as this very slimy casino owner who cheats Reuben out of his dream and dismisses Danny’s plea as he is a man full of ego and vanity as it’s a role that Pacino is perfect in.
Eddie Izzard is fantastic as the tech genius Roman Nagle who joins the gang as he also has a grudge towards Greco as he wants to get a nice share and help the gang. Andy Garcia is brilliant as longtime foe Terry Benedict who helps the gang in humiliating Bank while having a few tricks in his sleeve as he wants something in return for helping them. Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner, Casey Affleck, and Scott Caan are amazing in their respective roles as Livingston Dell, Yen, Saul, Virgil, and Turk as they all contribute some humor to the film while Bernie Mac is superb in his role as Frank Catton as it’s one of his final performances.
Elliot Gould is incredible as Reuben Tishkoff as a man who just wants to get his chance to run a casino as he nearly dies while seeing what his friends are doing for him. Matt Damon and Brad Pitt are hilarious in their respective roles as Linus Caldwell and Rusty Ryan where they both put on disguises and do some funny things. Don Cheadle is also hilarious as Basher who would pretend to be a stuntman to distract Bank while George Clooney is marvelous as Danny Ocean who leads the team into targeting Bank and make his night a living hell.
Ocean’s Thirteen is a phenomenal film from Steven Soderbergh. Armed with a great cast and an engaging premise, it’s a film that definitely serves as a fitting finale to the trilogy. Especially as it’s a film that just promises fun and excitement with characters audiences want to root for. In the end, Ocean’s Thirteen is a dazzling film from Steven Soderbergh.
Steven Soderbergh Films: sex, lies, & videotape - Kafka - King of the Hill - The Underneath - Gray's Anatomy - Schizopolis - Out of Sight - The Limey - Erin Brockovich - Traffic - Ocean's Eleven - Full Frontal - Solaris (2002 film) - Eros: The Equilibrium - Ocean's Twelve - Bubble - The Good German - Che - The Girlfriend Experience - The Informant! - And Everything is Going Fine - Contagion - Haywire - Magic Mike - Side Effects - Behind the Candelabra
The Auteurs #39: Steven Soderbergh: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2
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