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Ocean’s Thirteen: Slyly Progressive

JUNE 13, 2007 – Don’t get me wrong – Ocean’s Thirteen[1] is not a great film. But it’s not as bad as many critics have painted it. And if you’re a progressive critic of a North America run by Bush and Harper, it has moments that are, well, wonderful.

I won’t give the story line away – which is just as silly, improbable and complex as in the previous Ocean films. But what do you say about a film that refers favourably to Emiliano Zapato, leader of Mexico’s great revolution?

What do you say about a thief who goes to Mexico to infiltrate a dice factory, and ends up a) enthusiastically joining a wildcat strike; b) throwing a molotov cocktail at management; and c) winning?

What do you say about a movie where a leading character, in describing that strike, says they want “Bread and Roses,” referencing the great anthem of women’s liberation?

Besides these tongue-in-cheek winks to the left, the more serious progressive theme is the total debunking of sexist machismo that runs like a thread through the story line. This might be implausible in a film with almost no women present. But there is also almost no mockery of women – a pleasant change from standard Hollywood fare. There is no “surprise” twist where the villain turns out to be a woman – another contemporary, tiresome staple.

And watch the interactions between Brad Pitt and George Clooney – watch George get teary-eyed as he watches an episode of Oprah – and again draw your own conclusions. Ocean’s 13 is not a great film. But it’s fun, non-abusive and if you close one eye, you can even pretend that it’s a little progressive.

© 2007 Paul Kellogg. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.


[1] Steven Soderbergh, Ocean’s Thirteen (Village Roadshow Pictures, 2007).

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