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The great shame of “Ocean’s Thirteen” is that it should have been “Ocean’s Twelve.” Instead, the second installment of the “Ocean’s” series was a self-indulgent trifle filled with lame in-jokes and saddled with a disengaged European setting that felt more like a paid vacation for George Clooney, Brad Pitt and the rest of the neo-Rat Pack. Fortunately, “Ocean’s Thirteen” is a solid course correction that lands the team back in Las Vegas.
Al Pacino’s Willy Bank is a super-charged Steve Wynn/Donald Trump-alike who cheats the ailing Reuben Tishkoff out of co-ownership in a massive casino that looks like a Dubai skyline nightmare. The team led by Danny Ocean (Clooney) hatches a plan to ensure that Bank’s palace of cash keeps losing — if it loses its five-diamond rating, then Reuben regains control. Of course, none of this matters, because the joys in “Ocean’s Thirteen” come from the fun that everyone on screen is having with the cool-as-dry-ice dialogue.
When Pitt’s Rusty Ryan “does an Irwin Allen” on Bank, it means dangling the threat of a natural disaster. How about “a Billy Martin”? That’s code for being welcomed back in order for the “Steinbrenner” to stage a full retaliation. For director Steven Soderbergh, the “Ocean’s” films are larks, but that does not mean he puts less effort into them. His own cinematography (credited to Peter Andrews) is typically beautiful, and the great spy-music score by David Holmes gives it all a rich sense of suavity. This time, “Thirteen” is lucky.
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