Ocean’s Thirteen

Ocean’s Eleven, which is the basis for this third installation in the series, is a remake of a 1960 film starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis Jr. That film brought together the famous “Rat Pack” actors and depicted them as former World War II soldiers and officers who reunite after twelve years to rob five famous Las Vegas casinos. The remake, starring a newer, wider breed of famous actors, follows a similar plot, though the men in the remake are not soldiers, but career criminals.

Honor Among Thieves

One of the more common themes in this film is the code of honor which guides the main characters. Though they are all rogues and thieves, the entire scheme depicted in this film is what one character calls a “vengeance job.” The seek to strike back at a wealthy casino owner (Al Pacino) who conned one of their compatriots out of his share in a new hotel. This convention, which is also seen to some extent in Pirates III, is symbolically portrayed in Ocean’s Thirteen by having characters refer to having shaken Frank Sinatra’s hand as a status icon. A person who carries this marker is bound by certain rules of conduct. It is a betrayal of these rules which precipitates the film’s events.

Honor among thieves is not a new phenomena. It ranges backward to gentleman criminals of the past, like Professor Moriarty. Even in early comic book villains, their crimes were mostly petty theft– rarely murder or rape as is the case today. Despite this tradition, this use in Ocean’s Thirteen is not to contribute to some codex among villains, but rather to sugar coat the film’s cast of anti-heroes. Since almost everyone in the film is shown in the commission of numerous criminal or immoral acts, it is necessary to offset that with some semblance of honor. Otherwise, the audience might find it difficult to connect, thus coloring their view of the film and its characters.

Style, Presentation, Flare

One of the most impressive aspects of the film is the colorful, slick filmmaking style. The transitions are clever, the scenes are exquisitely decorated. The camera angles and cinematography were clearly painstakingly scouted and set up for specific angles, colors, and tones. This is set up to reinforce the same smooth, professional depiction in the characters and the actions. They perform a series of complex criminal activities with finesse and irony. Some argue that this kind of pandering in film making weakness the art form. They refer to these films as “popcorn” and point to the mass appeal of crowding a banner with so many famous names. Never the less, not all films are created for art house viewing. As with other media formats, like music, literature, and video games, some things need not  stray into avant garde or absurdism to tell a story.

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