Adam Burrows It’s back again. Following the logical pattern of increasing numbers (i.e. counting), we now have Ocean’s Thirteen. Perhaps Ron Howard should have used the same formula as Apollo 13. Then again, at least he had the sense to stop whilst he was ahead (insert various gambling jokes here). Soderbergh clearly has not; he got caught up in his own success and lost big with his sequel in 2004, Ocean’s Twelve, which was both a critical and commercial failure. However, as everyone knows, the fastest way to win back what you’ve lost is to bet bigger next time. This time, Soderbergh’s persistence may well have paid off. By returning the action to Vegas, producer Jerry Weintraub and director Stephen Soderbergh have recaptured some of the glamorous feel of the original film, abandoning the European tour of the sequel which rankled many fans. All of the usual beautiful faces means that Warner Brothers can automatically expect a big box office payout. The first film was about teamwork; it stole both the money and the girl. The second film left viewers bewildered over its theme. The third film is clear again: it’s about revenge. Big casino owner Willy Bank (Pacino) swindles Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) out of his share of a new Las Vegas casino. Both of these men shook Sinatra’s hand, and Bank is about to find out that you never break the code that exists between men that shook Sinatra’s hand. Danny Ocean (Clooney) assembles his usual clan, and they get to work on a plan to spoil Bank’s grand opening. They pull it off with style and verve, albeit with some unusual techniques – a drill formerly used to carve out the Channel Tunnel is perhaps not in every conman’s tool box.A script by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, co-authors of the equally sharp gambling movie Rounders, means there is plenty of witty interplay between the ultra-cool actors interspersing the action sequences. It is this combination that made the franchise so popular in the first place; it is good to see it brought back. Watching Pitt and Clooney crying in front of Oprah on the TV is priceless, whilst Eddie Izzard gives an outstanding performance as the technology aid. Conscious of avoiding a narrative pile-up this time, the script spends the first twenty minutes slowly detailing the ‘con’ in all its intricacies. Although this is useful, it lacks style and flow, and highlights the flaw which defines both sequels: the heists are too complex and far-fetched. But, after this slow introduction, the film really begins to start running at pace and the action comes thick and fast. This is all helped along by another superb soundtrack by David Holmes. When the operation finally reaches its climax, the montage that celebrates the success of the con is dazzling and almost orgasmic; we can finally share in the joy of everything going like clockwork. The principal problem with the film is the actors, but it’s not their fault. Dividing 120 minutes of screen time between at least ten of the world’s biggest acting names is obviously a process which involves compromise. Brad Pitt, for the first time I can remember, is criminally underused. The same applies for Andy Garcia, whose talents from the first film are not carried over into this latest instalment. Al Pacino is the only one who receives substantial treatment, and there is no doubting that his performance raises the level of the film. The balance is not quite right, and the two sequels will forever live in the shadow of 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven; but nevertheless it is a partial return to form for Soderbergh and the Vegas boys and definitely worth seeing.