Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ocean's Thirteen

Rooting for the bad guys?

When I watched Ocean's Thirteen, I cheered the movie's "heroes," Danny Ocean (George Clooney), Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), and Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), as well as the other nine.

Then I caught myself... was I was rooting for thieves and criminals, and rooting against their target, Willy Bank (gleefully played by Al Pacino)? How could I, a professed Christian, cheer on the pickpocket and marvel at the downfall of a victimized man?

Why? Because even though Willy Bank is the "victim" of the film's heist, the larger crime really lies with him.

In this movie, Bank nearly killed his longtime partner Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) by cutting him out of a major business deal; he went against the Vegas "code," which is sort of like the "Golden Rule" except that it goes something like this: "Do unto others (who shook Frank Sinantra's hand) what you would have them do to you (who also shook Sinatra's hand)."

Reuben is left for dead and Bank breaks this time-honored "code."

To put things back in place, Danny Ocean offers Willy Bank a chance to redeem himself for such a senseless act; when Willy refuses, Ocean gathers his team together to even the stakes.

Their "crime," then is to put right what once went wrong. Their "crime" was to do what was fair, . Their "crime" was to stand up for a friend, even if it meant throwing away their own money.

No matter how big the film's theft was, the bigger villian we watcjed on screen was the one walking in plain sight. Willy Bank looked perfect with his awards and diamonds, but deep down, his heart was filled with greed, selfishness, and injustice.

To root against him, it seems, was the right thing to do.

Like the Latin American freedom fighters who believed in a "liberation theology," that God stands with the disadvantaged and marginalized against the corrupt and powerful, Danny Ocean and Co. are pouring their hearts and minds into their own image of justice.

Who do we stand with? What do we stand for?

By not standing up, the corrupt and powerful will always win. If we are people of inaction, then those that break the "code" will find no reason to stop.

If thirteen guys would lay down their fortunes just to help out their mentor, how much more should we lay down our good fortunes for the sake of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the disadvantaged, the outcast, the unloved, the sick or the dying?

We root for Danny Ocean because he is a man of action. Will people one day root for us? If we become people of action and justice, then yes, I think they will.

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