Ocean’s 11 (2001)
Ocean’s 12 (2004)
Ocean’s 13 (2007)
Do you love George Clooney and Brad Pitt? Do you want to see a wonderful bromance where they know each other so well that they don’t even need to finish sentences? They are so in-tune with each other that they communicate non-verbally. The Ocean’s Trilogy will certainly deliver that. Danny Ocean, Clooney, and Rusty Ryan, Pitt, are the co-leaders throughout all the films. Linus Caldwell, Matt Damon, is desperate to be the third wheel to Danny and Rusty through all three films. You feel bad for him, especially when Danny and Rusty go over Linus’s head to his father. It feels a bit repetitive by the time you get to the third movie. Linus has proven himself useful by that point with many great ideas.
Ocean’s Eleven also includes Bernie Mac, Elliott Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shabo Qin, Carl Reiner, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, and Don Cheadle. Twelve adds Francois Toulour and Thirteen brings in Al Pacino. The movie does an effective job of mirroring the 1960 original featuring the Rat Pack. All the actors have believable chemistry of being friends working for a common goal. The cast list is a blatant effort to bring in the most viewers as possible, but it works well.
The choice to make Don Cheadle British felt cartoonish. His accent and lines are over the top and he is the only actor that feels like he is playing a character. Bernie Mac had to hustle through his full career to get work. Pitt and Clooney are suave good-looking men outside of films, so they are not stretching. Matt Damon always seems to play the unsure second fiddle if there are any other stars in the film.
All three movies focus on a well planned and executed heist that is only mildly interesting. The movies derive their enjoyment from character interaction instead of plot advancement. Perhaps I have seen these movies too many times, but by the time you get into the second or third movie the true surprises are few and far between. The original movie focused more on the mechanics of the heist and the following movies seemed to have been focus-grouped based on the first movie. It results in a solid but unremarkable product. These movies are perfect for hotel rooms. As you unpack and flip on the TV you can pick up any one of these films mid-way through and glance over from time to time.
In Ocean’s 13, Al Pacino plays a sociopath very effectively, but it is not a big ask based on his other work. He is an over the top self-centered backstabber. It is very easy to root against him as he is a one-dimensional character. He is a more comical villain than Andy Garcia was in the first film. Garcia was the best villain of the trilogy and serves a purpose for the two remaining films. It was a good move to keep him involved. His character is developed appropriately with believable motivations.
Ocean’s 11 is the by far the best in the series. Ocean’s 12’s departure from Vegas never really works. The major crime is not as methodically worked out as the first and third movies. There never feels like a true battle of wits between Ocean’s crew and The Night Fox. The Euro-pol storyline is also somewhat boring. Returning to Vegas was the right move for the third installment.
It is thirteen years since the last film was made and I think the movies still hold up as well as they would have during the initial release. I certainly learned what an EMP was from Ocean’s 11. Technology has advanced but it is easy to recall what was state of the art in the early 2000s. The artificial intelligence system in the third movie was a brilliant foreshadowing of technology that is still being developed today.
If you want an enjoyable and stress-free series of movies to watch I recommend revisiting these movies. The movies remain fun even if you are pointing out inaccuracies, the cast does a great job of holding your attention despite the flaws. Sit back, relax, and enjoy some good mass-market heist films.
I could not find Ocean’s 8 streaming anywhere for free like the early 2000s trilogy. It is also only tangentially related to the series so it will not be addressed in this review.