I'll try and be as fair and objective as possible with this, but I am a huge Soderbergh fan. With the exception of Kafka, I've loved every one of his films. Now, after blowing my so-called "objectivity", on with the review.
Most people didn't like Ocean's Twelve and thought it was a nearly overindulgent piece of fluff by a filmmaker who, hadn't made too many missteps. While I agree it wasn't as good as the first(there were problems with it), it still entertained. It did feel though, that there should have been a little less slight-of-hand plot points.
Thankfully, Clooney and Soderbergh admitted this and set out to correct the mistake. Thirteen is simple and to the point. Reuben (Elliot Gould) has entered into a partnership with business shark, Willie Bank (Al Pacino). They have teamed up to create a brand new hotel/casino in Las Vegas that will rake in the dough. Everyone, including Ocean, has warned Reuben that Bank will cut him out the deal once he gets what he wants from him. Reuben, whose ego and legacy building blind him, defends Bank and goes through with the deal. Promptly, Bank gets what he wants and cuts Reuben out. Reuben, in distress, has a heart attack and the whole gang comes running. Our boys knowing what happened; decide payback is the only option to revive Reuben, now catatonic in his bed.
Without giving anything else away, the payback is great. Although this time we don't get to see every clever, painstaking detail of the gang's plan. We come in when the plan is already in place, but the boys have hit a couple of snags and call in outside help (Eddie Izzard/Roman Nagal and Andy Garcia/Terry Benedict) to finish the job. The entire gang returns with the exception of Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose absences' are explained by Danny...
'This isn't their fight.'
It isn't and there are not missed. That being said, you would figure that would mean more screen time for the rest of the gang, but it doesn't. Don Cheadle and Qin both get maybe a scene and a half. Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Scott Caan, Casey Affleck, and Eddie Jemison all get at least two scenes, but it left you wanting to see more of them (especially Affleck, his scenes are great in relation to the smooth running of the plan). Disappointing most of all is the misuse of Ellen Barkin. She's such a great actor that it was shameful she was just being used as something pretty to look at (and yeah, she still looks gorgeous). Most of the screen time is given to Ocean (Clooney), Rusty (Pitt), Linas (Damon), and of course Pacino; who really wasn't as scary as the trailer made him out to be.
Despite all of that, it was a laugh out loud, clever piece of entertainment that made me feel like I was one of the boys again and I was in on the joke. Last movie, didn't do that. And that's probably because, Soderbergh was on his game for this one. You can watch the movie and feel that he knows how to place his characters in relation to the pop culture necessity of the plot. And he stayed away from flashy camera angles and lavish scenery (as much as one can in Vegas) that turned the audience off in the second movie. And the banter between all of them, PRICELESS. Clooney and Pitt are finishing each others sentences and there are a few scenes which are just flat-out funny with them. You never would have thought that two A-list stars could co-exist and make you believe they were the best of friends, but these two make you believe it.
All of this and we get the best piece of in-the-boys-club advice/rule/code I have ever heard. I'm not going to tell you what it is, but it is so cool and its said twice in the movie, that you will not miss it. So what are you waiting for? Go see it.