So, the plot goes something like this: Elliott Gould (smarmy) gets stiffed and driven to death by Al Pacino (hateful). Then, Elliott Gould’s buddies – George Clooney (unctuous), Brad Pitt (smug) and Matt Damon (cocky) – vow to avenge him by, umm, stifling business to the casino Al Pacino has nicked from Elliott Gould. In other words, a swaggering gaggle of self-satisfied, impossibly wealthy, impeccably groomed movie stars plot to get one over on another self-satisfied, impossibly wealthy, impeccably groomed movie star. Who are you gonna root for?
The dash and dazzle of the original Ocean’s redux seems a lifetime ago. Instead of delighting with his usual flair – temporal tweaks and kinetic cut-ups – Soderbergh settles for ADHD-editing and stock helicopter sweeps. Even David Holmes phones in a stale knock-off of his whipsmart lounge-funk. Unlike the breezy brio of Eleven, Thirteen’s cool is considered and studied – and hence, uncool. Like your grandad in Cuban heels. The script is a sludgy torrent of smartarse quips and quirks and kiss-offs – with one or two nose-wrinkling winks of misogyny. At one point, our smirking heroes get a giant boring machine (a nod to the franchise?) to cause an earthquake – exclusively underneath Al’s casino to scare away the customers. What is this, Scooby-Doo?
Cursory DVD extras don’t provide much pain relief, but Ocean’s Thirteen is a tiny bit better than Ocean’s Twelve. Which is like saying that being repeatedly punched in the back of the head is a tiny bit better than being beaten about the face with a pool cue. Ellen Barkin is dead sexy, though. It can have an extra star for that.