About Us Ad Info FAQ Products Classifieds Site Map Reviews Magazine Columns Events Directory


Ocean's Twelve

Bottom line: Jet lag hits the "Ocean" gang as a journey to Europe robs the sequel of the original's comic energy.
Energized by the good will established in the 2001 hit "Ocean's Eleven" and favored with an even larger, more glamorous cast in fabulous European locations, "Ocean's Twelve" nevertheless has a hard time getting untracked. It's once again a heist movie, of course, with Hollywood stars playing cool cats gifted in larceny. Only this time the plot mechanics get in the way.

Director Steven Soderbergh, working with a new writer, George Nolfi, makes a crucial shift in strategy: Instead of audiences feeling a part of a nifty conspiracy to pull off an audacious robbery, viewers are left largely in the dark as Soderbergh & Co. conspire to trick them with sleight of hand and misdirection. However much one might enjoy these tricks, the film provokes more intellectual than emotional interest. Whatever its shortcomings, though, with Catherine Zeta-Jones and European star Vincent Cassel added to the first film's top-notch cast of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Julia Roberts, the film should prove a boxoffice powerhouse in North America and overseas.

The story came together from a desire by Soderbergh to reassemble his "Ocean's" team for a sequel set in Europe and his discovery of a screenplay by Nolfi about a competition between the great thief in America and the great thief in Europe. Soderbergh and Nolfi retooled that story to accommodate a large cast of characters that includes newcomers Isabel Lahiri (Zeta-Jones), a beauteous Europol agent, and Francois Toulour (Cassel), a wealthy French playboy who moonlights as a thief.

The story contains more time shifts than H.G. Wells' "Time Machine" as it tracks back and forth, deliberately leaving huge gaps to keep audiences from guessing what is really happening. Essentially, three years after Ocean's guys ripped off Terry Benedict's Las Vegas casino and Danny Ocean (Clooney) won back his ex-wife, Tess (Roberts), someone rats them out to Benedict (Andy Garcia), who tracks them down one by one. He wants his $160 million back -- with interest -- or else. The gang quickly regroups from the various hideaways and decides to flee to Europe to pull off enough robberies to fulfill Benedict's demand.

In Amsterdam, they run into two major roadblocks: The first is Isabel, a smart and ambitious agent, who is always a half step behind them. Perhaps it's because she once had an affair with Rusty Ryan (Pitt) or maybe because her father was a famous thief himself. Worse, though, someone else is one step ahead of the gang. A mysterious thief known as the "Night Fox" beats them to their very first treasure.

Then it all comes together. The person who ratted them out was Francois, aka the Night Fox. Seems he is furious about the growing reputation of Ocean's gang as the greatest thieves in the world. He challenges them to see who can steal a Faberge Egg from a Roman museum first. Unlike the Vegas job, things continually go wrong for Ocean's gang. Police get tipped off, key members are arrested and one guy ends up in the wrong city.

Things go wrong with the screenplay as well, as many subplots flounder. Nolfi never finds interesting ways to use Bernie Mac's casino worker Frank Catton or Casey Affleck and Scott Caan as the squabbling Malloy brothers. Elliott Gould's casino owner and Carl Reiner's old-school crook barely show up. And the film certainly doesn't get enough bang from the wonderful Don Cheadle, who plays the cockney explosives expert.

Even Clooney's character ceases to be the focal point during one section as the continuing attraction/animosity between Pitt and Zeta-Jones threatens to derail the Ocean Express. Damon's rookie pickpocket is again a comic foil, while Shaobo Qin's acrobatic grease man once more proves to be a guy who can worm into small spaces. And Roberts' Tess must fly to Rome for an eleventh-hour rescue when all else fails.

Stephen Mirrione's fast-paced editing and David Holmes' pop-rock score propel the story ever forward whether one follows the twists or not. Cinematography by Soderbergh (and Peter Andrews) mixes his usual inquisitive hand-held camera with more conventional angles to good effect. Locations in Monte Carlo, Lake Como, Paris, Amsterdam, the Hague and Rome provide sumptuous backdrops.

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents in association with Village Roadshow Pictures a Jerry Weintraub/Section Eight production
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: George Nolfi
Based on characters created by: George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell
Producer: Jerry Weintraub
Executive producers: John Hardy, Susan Ekins, Bruce Berman
Director of photography: Peter Andrews
Production designer: Philip Messina
Music: David Holmes
Co-producers: Frederic W. Brost, Gregory Jacobs
Costume designer: Milena Canonero
Editor: Stephen Mirrione
Danny Ocean: George Clooney
Rusty Ryan: Brad Pitt
Linus Caldwell: Matt Damon
Isabel Lahiri: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Terry Benedict: Andy Garcia
Basher Tarr: Don Cheadle
Frank Catton: Bernie Mac
Tess Ocean: Julia Roberts
Francois Toulour: Vincent Cassel
Virgil Malloy: Casey Affleck
Turk Malloy: Scott Caan
Saul Bloom: Carl Reiner
MPAA rating PG-13
Running time -- 125 minutes

Get Copyright ClearanceWant to use this article? Click here for options!
Copyright 2004 The Hollywood Reporter

Ocean's Twelve
A Tale of Two Sisters
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Million Dollar Baby
Blade: Trinity

Agatha Christie's Marple: The Body in the Library
12 Days of Christmas Eve
The Nanny Reunion: A Nosh to Remember
Ben Franklin
The Librarian

The Ultimate Matrix Collection
Dr. Strangelove
Gone with the Wind
Hellboy Director's Cut
Ren & Stimpy

Kevin Spacey
Jingle Ball
Peter Cincotti
The Donnas
X, the Blasters

700 Sundays
Gem of the Ocean
Modern Orthodox
A Number
Les Miserables

Planet Simpson
Never Coming to a Theater Near You
Chronicles, Vol. 1
Lollipop Lounge
The Story of Canada Lee


REVIEWS going back to spring 1991 are available to our online-service subscribers via our archives. Not a subscriber? Click here to learn about the benefits of our premium service.


Award Links

© 2004 VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.