By EW Staff
Updated June 08, 2007 04:00 AM
Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

George Clooney had a very simple reason to reunite with director Steven Soderbergh for a third Ocean’s movie: ”Steven and I don’t like getting tagged in the chin all that often.” No kidding. After the release of 2004’s Ocean’s Twelve, the highly successful duo got taken to pieces by critics for being lazy and self-indulgent. ”It wasn’t as good, and that was our fault,” admits the Academy Award-winning actor. ”So when we started working on this one, we thought, The secret is to get it back to just the guys doing what they do. Steven said we should call it Ocean’s: The One We Should Have Made Last Time.”

And what are the guys doing this time around? Let’s ask Ellen Barkin, who, along with Al Pacino, represents this edition’s principal fresh blood. Alas, the longtime friend of Clooney and franchise producer Jerry Weintraub dutifully refuses to elaborate on the plot. Even when we threaten to shoot a pretend puppy in our pretend lap unless she coughs up some answers, the actress huskily purrs, ”Oh, I hate animals, including my own.”

Thankfully, Matt Damon turns out to be a total blabbermouth. ”It’s a straight revenge story,” says the actor. ”Al Pacino is a big-time Vegas guy who’s building the greatest hotel ever and screws [Elliott Gould] out of his share. So the guys get back together to make sure that the hotel goes down in flames.”

Now, that sounds like an Ocean’s movie. But even if it connects with audiences like the original, Clooney is adamant it will be the last installment — at least with him. ”If you ask Jerry, there should be 20 of them,” he laughs. ”But I think they’re going to have to go to the next generation — because [pretty soon] we’re going to have colostomy bags and wheelchairs.”