Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Ocean's Thirteen


Ocean’s Thirteen

I’ve heard the question asked many times. “What happened to the golden age of cinema?” Typically the poser of the question is referring to the good ol’ days of Hollywood. A time where there was no need for a ratings system because it was an era where cursing on screen was minimal, and kisses between Hollywood co stars were kept to a three second time limit by the MPAA. Of course, depending on your generation, though, “the golden age” of cinema can represent different periods, but I believe at the core of that title is the time when there was a mystery to cinema; and a movie star was clearly defined by a face, and not by whose daddy has the most money.

Today is a different time and perhaps a more vivid time for film. If you are going to go see a movie this summer, chances are you want to see a blockbuster, a big budget spectacle with monumental explosions and brilliant CGI, almost guaranteed to keep you enthralled, laughing, or on the edge of your seat. Most of them will deliver the goods, so you won’t be left begging for more.

But in the summer of sequels, Ocean’s Thirteen sticks out with class. It is one that will deliver the pace and one-liners like the best of them, but will leave you with a taste of the old school days.

What it does well is bring back the essence of the original movie by bringing all the original members back together and back to Vegas. While Ocean’s Twelve was a bit of a misfire- scattered and complicated, this movie is one big set up from the very beginning with a somewhat sly but satisfying payoff.

The heart of the original eleven, Rueben, gets double crossed as he attempts to partner with the heartless Willie Bank, played cunningly by Al Pacino, adding to the already stunning cast. The boys set out for revenge, and it turns out to be way more complicated to obtain than one could imagine.

The chemistry of the eleven is effortless, perhaps a little too effortless as most of the veteran actors probably phoned in their roles. But, it works, because even though George Clooney stands around for many parts of the film’s climax, Clooney just standing is a better performance than most I’ve seen so far this summer. It’s the swagger he brings. He brings back a certain “golden age” cool akin to the likes of Cary Grant, or the man who originally played Danny Ocean — the immortal Frank Sinatra. The other cast members hold their own as well, and the movie comes off very funny and genuine.

There are some blunders to the movie. The caper itself is a vast and extremely intricate set up, the success of which is highly unlikely. There is a security system in the Bank hotel, top of the line and unbreakable. But of course they break it. And the details go as far as infiltrating the manufacturing plant where the dice of the Bank Casino are made. Keeping up with the pace proves difficult sometimes as the dialogue is delivered lightning-fast in parts, and is in the quirky coded language which is signature to the series. It’s a far-fetched scheme, yes, but when pulled off by these guys it’s fun and thoroughly enjoyable.

Then there is the fact that the movie is definitely a sequel. If you haven’t seen Twelve then you’ll definitely miss out on some inside jokes, and characters from both previous movies show up scattered about. It might be confusing for an Ocean’s first-timer.

But the pace never lets up. The film may benefit from a second viewing for the full effect of the plot; but the suave is ultra-cool, the jokes are nicely timed, and there’s just something about a movie in Vegas. I’ve seen so many movies from that “golden age” and couldn’t help but picture the Rat Pack cruisin’ down the streets in the city of lights like they own the town. Brad Pitt and Clooney gel as smooth as Dean Martin and Sinatra. We may no longer be in the 40’s, but the luster of Vegas and the aura of the old days of Hollywood still has an effect on cinema today.

-Mark Wingerter

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