June 10, 2007

Ocean's Thirteen (Soderbergh, 2007)

A breezy, lightweight affair (the most blithe revenge film in recent memory), convoluted and lacking any real substance, with about as much in common with reality as a superhero film. Yet in spite of this, or perhaps because of this, Ocean’s Thirteen remains a slickly entertaining “surface level” piece of work for the duration of its runtime. As in the previous entries of the series, style is the substance here and Soderbergh has fun taking the film to the heights of ridiculousness. The cast is obviously in on the joke and watching Clooney and his fraternity of actors coast through the proceedings is enjoyable. And although we aren’t left with much of anything to reflect on, it is fun while it lasts. As far as summer escapism goes, a far better and more satisfying experience than Spider-Man 3.


Evan T. Burchfield said...

I thought the discussion of Old Vegas vs. New Vegas to be an interesting one since it added nothing to the supposed lighthearted superficiality that everyone claims the movie is filled with. The entire concept of the movie is a fulfillment of the speech given by Ocean in the first film, where he says "the house always wins," and that's just not fair. The movie is about revenge on Al Pacino not because he hurt Elliot Gould but because his Vegas is cruel, greedy, glitzy, and false.

My favorite moment: while Bradd Pitt and George Clooney stand in front of the Bellagio's fountain and reminisce about how Vegas used to be, the Clair de Lune is played, a la the scene in Ocean's 11, but this time the song is performed on a synthesizer instead of an actual piano. The musical effect here is that Vegas has not only changed between the time when these two characters were young and now, but also between Ocean's 11 and now.

R.A. Naing said...

A very interesting reading of the film. I too was aware of the apparent effort to contrast old and new Vegas, and agree that it was an interesting attempt to add a certain degree of thematic shading to the film, albeit one that doesn't really amount to all that much in the long run.

The reason I say that, is because for me, the Ocean's film have always been, first and foremost, about style and attitude. About the surface, not the subtext. Soderbergh illustrates a definite concern with aesthetics and it isn't hard to see that all involved are simply out to have a good time. This goes a long way towards explaining why the film's seem so convoluted, because the plots don't really matter. It's this breeziness that many fault these films for, but its something I enjoy. And just for the sake of playing devil's advocate (though I'm no Vegas expert) since when has Vegas not been about greed, glitz, and detachment from reality?