Why "Oceans" is Still some of the Best Heist Films, 20 Years Later”
Out here in Toronto it’s been hot and feels very much like summer – like I need to be on vacation right now, at an all-inclusive resort or I don’t know… chillin’ in Vegas?! Well since I sadly still can't do either, I went ahead and did the latter through my TV… hello Oceans Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen! Taking a dip in the pools of all three Steven Soderbergh films, FLIX this weekend is flying you out to Las Vegas, Amsterdam and Rome for the perfect weekend “stay-cations”… and the perfect heists. Time for all things suave.
Debuted back in 2001, the first film of this trilogy truly is great. We got interesting characters, a variety of characters, big time money, all the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, and staple actors when they were younger and better looking… oh hi George Clooney and Brad Pitt! Does one even need anything else in a film? To top it all off we have a very smart film that gives us details on details (making everything seem highly realistic and therefore far more enjoyable to watch), a great script with truly perfect last words on more than one occasion (you’ll have to watch the film to find these gems, as there are actually too many good ones to note down), an upbeat and funky score that breathes life throughout the entirety of the film, and of course, the suave eloquence of it all! Oceans Eleven is not only fun to watch because of the brilliance of the heist, but it’s the side dishes of the minds and personalities that make up the team, and the music that gives us the perfect vibe to match the job with the location, to the team. The film just boasts all the above in the coolest way possible, and you don’t at all feel the grandeur of everything as being “too much”. Verdict: 11/11
Now usually sequels never compare to the first film, however Oceans Twelve does a fine job. “How”, might you ask? By having a plot and storyline that is completely different than that of the first film. Yes, it’s still a heist film, however we are now in Europe so “hello travel”, the job and/or target is totally different, and new albeit important characters have joined the show (without feeling a sense of overcrowding or taking away from the OG team). Moving from casinos, Las Vegas and big money, we have refinement and other kinds of big money, which bring us to Amsterdam, Rome and Lake Como. The characters, personalities, brains, a score that sets the perfect vibe, and the suave lifestyle that just radiates from certain characters are the classic staples we came to love in Oceans Eleven, and are present again this time in Twelve. However Oceans Twelve also serves up beautiful shots of the cities, throwbacks of countless memories if you’ve been to any of said cities (myself having been to Amsterdam so brownie points to Oceans Twelve), while still containing all the trimmings that made Oceans Eleven devilishly clever and comedic. What differs? The job being pulled, the type of treasure at the end of the heist rainbow, and a script that hands you the perfect line or convo here and there like “relationships can be-“, “Sure.” “But they’re also-“, “That’s right”. All this truly makes Oceans Twelve another great film, in its own right. The only thing it doesn’t have going for it? The fact that we lost the element of newness because we know the team... but that literally is all. Not too shabby eh? (of course not, we’re dealing with Daniel Ocean). Duh! Verdict: 12/12
Six years later and now we’re at the third installment of the Oceans trilogy… and we’re back in Las Vegas! And although the setting is familiar, and given what I’ve said above about the sequel being great because everything is basically different while only some aspects are the same, how on earth can the third time around be just as a good, if we’re back in the same place? Well even though Oceans Thirteen has the same setting as Oceans Eleven and the job is similar enough, the motive is entirely different – and that my friends, is pretty much how Oceans Thirteen is yet another great film in its own right. Similar to Oceans Eleven we have a good script that definitely brings humour to a high stakes, high risk and high reward world however, it doesn’t have the perfect last words or sentences touch Oceans Eleven has. Instead, it has some fire lines here and there which are perfect in their own right, adds another point to the scoreboard for reasons why Thirteen is different from Eleven, and has a bilingual aspect the first film didn’t have. The icing on this third cake definitely is the Mexican aspect brought to Oceans Thirteen, spearheaded by smaller protagonist, Virgil Malloy – the driver (one of two) and brother to Ben Affleck in real life, Casey Affleck. Virgil’s role in Mexico is made perfect by the mystic and underlying empowering characteristics his alias contains while working at the plastic factory. His script (an example here being “danger is my middle name” – a terrible cliché but one Virgil pulls off smoothly), the score when he’s speaking Spanish, and the way in which he delivers his “lines” are both funny and a job well done – making this entire side story in Oceans Thirteen something of its own, while still making it Oceans (if you know what I mean). Verdict: 13/13
All in all, Oceans Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen have not succumbed to the pressure of time. Twenty-somewhat years later and the only thing that “stands out” is the fact that both George Clooney and especially Brad Pitt have aged quite a bit. But moving past the actors, the stories and heists pulled off in each of these films is timeless, terribly entertaining, and truly have struck the balance between funny and serious. And sure, there are countless heist films and even series to watch these days, why revisit an “old” classic? Well let’s just say this, sure La Casa de Papel or Money Heist is entertaining, smart and pretty cool from a technology and weaponry point of view… but it’s also terribly emotional and high stress. Oceans on the other hand is so cool, that the suave essence transcends the screen and guaranteed, makes any viewer feel how cool the job and the characters are, with no guns and all the technology. So sit back, relax, and take a fascinating trip down to Sin City and abroad with these classic heist staples.
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