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Danny (George Clooney), Linus (Matt Damon) and Rusty (Bard Pitt) get ready to pull off another big job, this time in Europe.
( PG-13 )
'12' is the new '11'
Review by David Brudnoy
Wednesday, December 8, 2004Was a remake needed to the rat-pack "Ocean's Eleven?" Yes, and in 2001 we got it. Is a sequel needed to that now? No, but we get it anyhow. This is a wildly muddled but often quite amusing continuation, centered on the need of our larcenous heroes to make good on a multimillion-dollar scam they pulled on Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), who has found them, ambled back into their lives with a white ascot and a fancy walking stick and allowed them a magnanimous two weeks to come up with nearly $200 million. And so it begins.
Can a cast of leading performers and quite competent second bananas be too ample? You betcha. Let me count the cast. Brad Pitt is Rusty, not too savvy yet but eager to be taken as one of the brainier ones. Fat chance. Catherine Zeta-Jones is Isabel, who at one time was shacking up with Rusty. George Clooney is Danny Ocean, the major brains of the operation, with Julia Roberts as Tess, Danny's wife, and later an imitator of ... Julia Roberts. Casey Affleck plays Virgil, who isn't too bright but has a nice gawky way about him. Matt Damon plays Linus, another second-level thief here who is determined to be in on the big time.
Don Cheadle is Basher, who is brainy and appropriately important here. Elliott Gould is Reuben, the token Jew and a fussbudget. Carl Reiner is Saul, I guess another token Jew, older and using his rank as senior citizen to issue ex-cathedra statements and to kvetch now and then when things become irritating. There's the small Chinese kid - Yen (Shaobo Qin) - who can squeeze into tight spaces, and speaks only his native language, but appears to be understood by his companions. Scott Caan grins a great deal and has a way too short haircut. And it goes on, and on and on. I'll leave it to you to figure out how many more of the performers you care to memorize by name.
Here's the thing. Our boys have decided to steal one of the great Tiffany Easter eggs once owned by the Imperial Romanov family of Russia. But another major bad guy is after it, too, and getting to the egg requires going through a maze of electronic lights, the sort of thing we saw in the two excellent Tom Cruise movies, but even more gawkingly impressive here. And scam must be pulled atop scam atop ... but stop me when the scam-count overwhelms or tires you. Here's where, to my little and unsophisticated brain, things catapulted out of hand. Sometimes I got what they were doing, sometimes not, and as in anything that is, as the Brits put it, too much of a muchness, my little gray cells begin to malfunction. Granted the on-site locations are nice; we bounce around from major city to another and another, and even if the supposed Amsterdam main rail road station is actually that of nearby Haarlem, will you care? Not unless you're even more a fussbudget than I am.
What's fun here is the insouciance of the performers, the loosey-goosey tone of the thing, and the cleverness of some of the gambits. What's less fun is figuring out just why the cast is so large that it just transcends any real purpose. We do not always need amplitude. Often, less truly is more.
( Written by George Nolfi; directed by Steven Soderbergh. )