No sequel to Ocean's 11 can match the grace, camaraderie or sheer sense of fun that that original Soderbergh film was imbibed with. The reasons for this are aplenty but it hinges mostly on the purpose behind the heists. In the first film, the gang got together to rob a casino simply because it was there. In the weak follow up (Ocean's 12) they planned and schemed again, because they needed the money, but it quickly grew tiring, especially with the shift in setting to Europe. This third time their driver is revenge, which renders the purpose a little mechanical, but at least we are back in familiar territory. We see everyone dutifully get-together, have a good time and then disband. It's all well-behaved yet irreverent boy shenanigans; more fulfilling in making brisk merriment than the last time we saw them, but still not comparable with their original endeavour.
Not many films can claim to have a lineup of stars as electrifyingly superior as this series has had. Each one of the main actors (Clooney, Pitt, Damon) has enough star power and charisma to carry a film on his own, and to see them spout classy dialogues with the sophistication that the franchise brings is itself purposeful enough for the casual moviegoer to watch this. When you add to this already formidable equation the presence of Al Pacino, you expect the screen to be lit, almost set itself on fire, but it doesn't. Part of this has to do with the subdued method that Soderbergh employs. He uses low lighting, angled shots, hushed conversations. The Pacino we know (and love) usually hams it out, chews his lines like a dog being fed after an overlong period of starvation. Here, he is none of those things and we get to see him lose (that is a forgone conclusion, not a spoiler). Even if this works in favour of Clooney and company, who unite after Reuben is callously cheated by Pacino's Willy Bank, it lessens the impact that the presence of Pacino should bring. Even when Pacino briefly shares screen time with one of his fellow Godfathers (Garcia), it seems to be in an almost sedated state.
But the pleasure of watching a large scale heist being planned, perfected and then executed in a way slightly different than it was planned before the audience, brings back the same sense of heightened whimsy and amusement that was always the core of the original. In this way, the entire film feels like a long, elaborate planning session. Scenes such as these accentuate the ruthless professionalism of the team as a whole. For once though, this is a guys film. Missing are Julia Roberts and Zeta Jones ('this is not their fight', Ocean tell us) and while another film would reek of testosterone at such a setup, Ocean's 13 is all about gentle robbery, stylish casino busts and urbane, almost retro cool dressing. 'You don't run the same gig twice' someone says while obsessive arrangements are being made; Soderbergh proves he understands this well. - Faizan Rashid