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Ocean's Thirteen: Analog Heroes In A Digital World

Ocean's Thirteen: Analog Heroes In A Digital World

At the beginning of Ocean’s Thirteen, security systems expert Roman Nagel (Eddie Izzard) consults Danny (George Clooney) and Rusty (Brad Pitt) on how best to infiltrate the ultra high-tech security system at The Bank, a luxury hotel/casino set to open on the Vegas strip. As Roman tries to explain the system in tech-speak, it’s clear Danny and Rusty are out of their element. “I like you two,” says Roman. “You’ve got style, brio. But you’re analog people in a digital world.”

No matter how high-tech the revenge shenanigans get in Ocean’s Thirteen, it is precisely this “analog” quality — the old-school loyalty, humor, and charm — that keep us rooting for these thieves and cons. Fast-paced and fantastically convoluted, Ocean’s Thirteen (like its two predecessors) is almost all exposition. The journey to the sweet moment of revenge against wicked casino kingpin Willy Bank (Al Pacino), in other words, is the bulk of the film. Their revenge may be high-tech, but their values are old-fashioned. Like Ocean’s 11, in which Danny’s motivation is as much about getting his wife Tess back from Bellagio owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) as it is about robbing Terry’s casino, Ocean’s Thirteen is about men who want to save their stricken friend Reuben, no matter what the cost. Although there's a bit of a lag in the middle, and an unfortunate sexist misuse of Ellen Barkin as Bank's right-hand woman, the fact that they have a fantastic time doing it makes it a joyride for us viewers as well, so

Ocean's Thirteen begins with Rusty hearing the news that Reuben has had a heart attack and is in critical condition after being screwed by Bank. After visiting the unresponsive Reuben, Rusty and Danny begin scheming their revenge. Willy Bank’s hotel/casino, The Bank, is the new crown jewel in his empire of casinos. He and the built-like-a-brick-house Abigail Sponder (Ellen Barkin) run a tight ship and aim to make, well, bank on opening night.

What Bank and Abigail don’t know is that Ocean’s crew is going to treat The Bank like a fun house. In order to bankroll this over-the-top revenge job, they are helped by the unlikeliest of protagonists: Their once arch-enemy Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). As long as they steal Bank’s diamonds, Terry claims, he’ll pay for everything. So, using their collective wiles, they rig, bribe and digitally maneuver their ways into ruining The Bank's opening night. And how will they get into the insanely impregnable vault where the diamonds are held? Old fashioned seduction: Send in “Lenny Pepperidge” (Matt Damon, with a ridiculous fake nose) to seduce Abigail with some special love potion he puts on his neck.

"There’s a code among people who have shaken Sinatra’s hand," Reuben says in disbelief to Bank when he’s getting screwed. As charming as that “old fashioned” code of loyalty is, part of it seems to include the notion that “broads” are just trouble. As a result, with the exception of Abigail, who is called a "cougar," humiliated and ultimately dispensed with, Ocean’s Thirteen is largely a world without women. In spite of this and the lag in the middle, Ocean’s Thirteen is loads of fun.

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