'Ocean's 13': Let's Hear It for the Boys

Supercool and superclever, "Ocean's Eleven" was everything you'd want in a heist movie. "Twelve" was everything you didn't want in a sequel: Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon & Co. threw a party, and forgot to invite the audience. In "Thirteen," the boys are trying to make amends. They partly succeed. The fog of self-satisfaction has mostly lifted. There's actually a coherent script (by Brian Koppelman and David Levien), and there are some real laughs. Not big laughs, mind you, but a fairly steady stream of smiles and chuckles. And their newest caper is, as expected, fiendishly complex and outlandishly executed.

Here's the deal: Danny Ocean's gang reconvenes to get revenge. Their target: the nastiest, most unscrupulous casino tycoon in Vegas, Willy Bank (Al Pacino). He double-crossed their old pal Reuben (Elliott Gould) out of his partnership in Bank's new hotel, so the guys want to make sure everything goes wrong on the opening night of Bank's spectacular new casino. That means, among other things, rigging every game so the house always loses.

The entire cast (sans Julia Roberts) is back, exuding no-sweat glamour as they lob off-the-cuff quips. "Thirteen"'s most conspicuous—and questionable—departure is the exclusion of any romantic interest for Clooney or Pitt. Damon's character puts the moves on Bank's right-hand woman (Ellen Barkin), but only as a ruse. This one is all about the boys. But as glad as we are to see them, watching the third installment is like attending a college reunion too soon after the last one: after the initial welcome, there's not all that much to say.