The whole gang is back for another involved caper involving lots of money
George and Brad are closet Oprah fans. Matt Damon sports a funny fake nose. Don Cheadle quotes Chuck Berry and channels some soul kitsch. Al Pacino underplays!
Stuff like that is central to the glittery, inconsequential fun offered up by the latest addition to the Ocean’s 11-12-13 franchise. And fun it is, in a way that is at times both sleekly sophisticated and charmingly off-handed.
Like all of the Ocean’s 11 remakes and sequels, it’s a caper film, with a briskly rambunctious blend of action adventure and comedy. And in its self-referential mixtures of story points and bargaining chips, it also manages to imply, more than once, that there’s not all that much difference between running a large-scale, big-bucks scam and piecing together bankable movie entertainment.
This time the plot points have Danny Ocean (Clooney) and company scheming to exact multi million-dollar payback on monomaniacal casino mogul Willie Bank (Pacino), who has ripped off their pal Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) big-time and with near-lethal consequences. The stakes and challenges are heightened by Bank’s cutting-edge involvement with high-tech security, and also almost lowered by a semi-flippant plot twist that makes a Mexican dice factory into one of the key participants.
Assorted other entanglements and distractions arrive via Bank’s major accomplice (Ellen Barkin), a rival mogul (Andy Garcia) called into reluctant alliance with Ocean’s crew, and a farcically abused hotel evaluator (David Paymer). Gould gets to do some farcical grotesquerie of his own, and Carl Reiner camps it up amusingly as a planted stand-in for Paymer’s “very unimportant person.” French star Vincent Cassel has a brief, bold cameo in one of the story’s final scams-within-scams.
Clooney and Pitt navigate all this with charming nonchalance, and Damon matches their deadpan style in a more broadly comic part. Gould is the hammiest of the bunch, but he, too, manages to get off some flashes of self-parody without sinking into craven schtick.
Even the Oprah jokes have a payoff in the final going. And the Paymer character gets an unexpected and characteristically outlandish reward before it’s all over.