Thursday, 7 June 2007

Ocean's 13 (2007)

Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's series would probably provoke much more interest and excitement in film historians and anyone interested in Hollywood fare from an earlier era, than from its ideal audience. Instead of staring wide-eyed at the endless parade of celebrity actors in this stunt-casting extravaganza, or going slackjawed from the effortless convergence of baroque plans and long cons, unexpected questions would be raised - either to the director's delight or rue - about Hollywood's ability to cannibalise its own creations and recycle them. One might as well ask how Hollywood's golden age genres of heist, noir, and con films could ultimately end up getting recycled by modern Hollywood into the Ocean's films.

Seriously. How do you make a heist film or a con film full of double crosses between conmen and plots within plots, into pure entertainment, and take out the nastiness, the noir morality issues, cynicism, and biting humour about how the world has become a corruption of itself, or of the disappearing honour amongst thieves? And yet there they are, the three Soderbergh Ocean's titles, smirking at us with enough lightheartedness to send a zeppelin into the air.

So here's what Ocean's 13 is: a brain-free heist movie perfect for a summer release, where there is no need to figure out what all this double-crossing, corruption, cons within cons actually mean. It is a breezy move that only requires you to sit back and watch a showcase of teamwork, of various plans connecting together at the right time to give a right result. It is a condensation of the heist movie into its clockwork parts, demanding you consume it like an eight-year-old watching the magic of a model train going round and round the tracks.

The only thing saving grace of this movie is that unlike its predecessor, the plot of Ocean's 13 is reasonably coherent without major plot holes, inconsistencies (safe for one - how does Reuben, a seasoned conman, get conned in the beginning of the movie by a villain so transparent as Banks?), and bad faith twist endings. The entertainment-loaded, superficial, ponder-free mixture of Ocean's 13 makes it an agreeable but ultimately unmemorable heist movie.

Movie fanatics might take pleasure in knowing that like Pirates of the Caribbean, Ocean's 13 has a reference to Singapore - its integrated resort (aka casino!), no less.

First published at incinemas on 7 June 2007

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