Like its predecessors, “Oceans Thirteen” is a crime/comedy action film about a gang of professional thieves and their high-profile robberies. The rich characters, crisp dialog, intense action and comedy in the original “Oceans Eleven” (2001) and “Oceans Twelve” (2004) make a strong return in this third installment.

Fans will not be disappointed. However, unlike the earlier films, “Oceans Thirteen” has a more serious theme under its surface.

The film begins with Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) being forced to forfeit his share in a new luxury hotel/casino being built in Las Vegas. After being blackmailed out of his investment by his crooked business partner Willy Bank (Al Pacino), Reuben collapses from a heart attack. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) rallies the enlarged team of thieves to recover Reuben’s money.

The team embarks on various adventures involving the casino’s security system, a huge tunnel-drilling machine (the “Chunnel drill”), supercomputers and bankruptcy.

As part of their plan, Turk (Scott Caan) and Virgil (Casey Affleck) take jobs at a factory in Mexico that manufactures casino dice. Like their co-workers, they experience terrible pay and deplorable working conditions. In solidarity with the workers, they lead a strike, telling Danny that after they “break management,” the loaded dice will be manufactured and the plot can go forward.

This brings to light some important questions. How does our lifestyle affect the countries that provide the cheap materials and labor that fuels our consumer society, which is represented in this film by the capitalist mecca itself, Las Vegas?

In the earlier films, the team’s heists are motivated by greed and self-preservation. In “Oceans Thirteen,” the team members take on Robin-Hood-like qualities. Justice, not greed, is their motivation.

The group struggles against a much stronger, richer, dirty-playing opponent in a bid to correct the injustice against Reuben. The dice factory side-story helps bring this “rich versus poor” conflict into greater focus for the viewer.

The film comes to an exciting conclusion on the casino’s opening night, when the team put its plan into motion.

I recommend this film to anyone who enjoyed the earlier films and to those looking for a little more depth in a light, exciting package. Each member of the all-star cast gives a convincing performance and the dialog is sharp. The film proves to be entertaining and fairly solid overall.

While not meant to be a social commentary like director Steve Soderbergh’s other films, important questions about our society and lifestyle are still asked if the viewer watches closely.


Oceans Thirteen

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Warner Bros., 2007

122 minutes, PG-13