Ocean's Thirteen

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 June, 2007, 12:00am

Ocean's Thirteen - the third and reportedly final instalment of the popular heist franchise directed by Hollywood maverick Steven Soderbergh - is wonderful escapist entertainment.

The film has no substance, but it has style. Almost everything - from the star-studded cast which includes George Clooney and Brad Pitt to the expensive sets - is classy and glamorous. There is not a single scene in the movie that will not please your eyes. A fully operational casino was built for the film.

The story begins with Reuben - a member of Danny Ocean (Clooney)'s gang of underworld professionals - making the mistake of building a hotel with the shrewd and ruthless businessman Willy Bank (Al Pacino).

Bank, with no respect for loyalty, cuts Reuben out of the deal, leaving him paralysed in a hospital bed after suffering from a heart attack.

To help Reuben level the score against Bank, Danny and his gang plan to bankrupt Bank's casino on its opening night. But to do so they must collaborate with their former enemy, casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). They must also create a catastrophe as big as an earthquake to suspend Bank's computer security system.

Soderbergh is on top of his game, creating scene after scene of sophisticated humour and high-wire suspense. His breezy narrative style and camera trickery work well with the story, which captures the playful and romantic spirit of the traditional heist movie.

Clooney, perhaps the most likable male star on this planet, is a class act. He does little more than pose coolly, drink red wine and exchange banter with his mates, as well as watch Oprah (the best joke in the movie). He is the star and anchor of the film.

Pacino, on the other hand, flounders as the bad guy. He is at his best when playing characters who enjoy the last laugh. As Bank, who is no match for the wits and guts of Danny, Pacino looks more like a grumpy, caged beast than a roaring, bloodthirsty lion.

So where are the girls? The sunny Julia Roberts and the gorgeous Catherine Zeta-Jones who brightened the last two movies? The film seems to suggest that revenge is a funny thing - but it is also a man's thing. Feminists may protest against the idea, but Clooney will have the last laugh. Who needs women when stealing diamonds is so much fun?

Ocean's Thirteen opens today