The specifics of the plotting are both too dense and quite frankly, ludicrous, to go into in detail, but it goes something like this: big time Vegas hotel owner Willy Bank (Pacino) reneges on a deal with Reuben (Gould, who all but steals the film with an absolutely delightful Godfather joke) to partner him in a new casino, leaving Reuben broke and nearly dead. Ocean (Clooney) and the boys (Pitt, Damon, et al) vow revenge on Bank by coming up with several hi-tech schemes to win so big on opening night that Bank will be ruined. An added complication arises when the one person able to finance their plan, old foe Terry Benedict (Garcia), will only do it if the boys steal some diamonds from Bank's impregnable penthouse while they're at it. And why is Vincent Cassel's Toulour, the bad guy from Twelve, hanging around the hotel?
Actually, it's quite a straightforward setup really, but the joy of the film lies in the way the intricacies of the scams are revealed, in the smooth byplay between the supremely talented players, and in Soderbergh's now finely polished direction. Though the zip and flair is back, the style quotient hasn't been sacrificed to accommodate it, with some glorious camera work and beautiful aesthetics on top of the fun all coming together to make Ocean's Thirteen probably the strongest of the trilogy.
Almost everyone returns from the first two outings, the only dropouts being Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta Jones, neither of them particularly missed. As ever, such a large crew means casualties (Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner and Shaobo Qin barely merit showing up), especially with the inclusion of three new characters (Pacino, plus Barkin as his assistant and David Paymer as an unfortunate hotel inspector). Damon gets some decent screen time and laughs, while Casey Affleck and Scott Caan probably score the biggest yucks as the dopey, scrapping Malloy brothers. Truth be told, even Clooney and Pitt have very little to do other than stand around in sharp jackets or wear silly disguises, but that they do it with such exquisite, effortless cool is just the reason why we joined the game in the first place.
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