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Soderberghís sloppy, plotless sequel is certainly going to be a worldwide hit, though final results are unlikely to match those of the original, says Mike Goodridge.
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The final Godzilla is less an integrated film than a series of gonzo performances that, after the initial rush of excitement, feels too samey, says Mark Schilling
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Clint Eastwood gives probably his best ever performance here in one of this yearís best US films, says Mike Goodridge
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The third collaboration between Bill Murray and Wes Anderson has numerous charms but cannot equal the perfect balance of previous outings, says Jean Oppenheimer
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A good prospect for a Best Picture Oscar nomination and it could give Scorsese another chance to claim the Academy's Best Director statuette.
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click to mail this story to a friend Oceanís Twelve

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Mike Goodridge in Los Angeles 08 December 2004

Dir: Steven Soderbergh. US. 2004.

Warner Bros and Village Roadshow can count on another worldwide hit with Oceanís Twelve, the sequel to the 2001 blockbuster Oceanís Eleven which grossed $183.4m in North America and $267.3m in international territories. With global movie stars Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Roberts and now Catherine Zeta-Jones heading the cast and a hip marketing campaign based around the super-cool tagline ĎTwelve Is The New Elevení, the concept alone is enough to drive audiences to their local multiplex.

The fact that Steven Soderbergh and his stellar cohorts have delivered a sloppy, plotless film which neglects its storytelling obligations to the audience in favour of self-referential smugness will not damage the massive openings around the world. But the ultimate box office numbers wonít match those of the original, once word spreads that this ride has fewer pleasures than its predecessor.

Soderbergh, who once again serves as his own cameraman, clearly needs a challenge greater than this. Since 2000 when his double-hander of Erin Brockovich and Traffic vaulted him to the top of the Hollywood tree, his output has been prolific but patchy, to say the least. In Oceanís Twelve, he employs all the tricks Ė shaky, handheld camera, multiple colour tones, flashy cutting Ė but thereís not an iota of real danger and consequently no suspense. Thatís a big problem in a giant caper movie like this one.

Instead, the actors, who are obviously having a ball making the film, play it mostly for laughs and, in the final heist sequence, the film buckles under the weight of its own conceit by having Julia Robertsí character Tess Ocean pretend to beÖ Julia Roberts. Even Bruce Willis pops up as himself and thinks Tess is Roberts. Itís a moment in which any pretence that the director and actors are trying to spin a compelling yarn is shattered.

The challenge for the band of lovable rogues this time is to pay back the $160m they stole in Oceanís Eleven. Helped by a mysterious informer, Vegas entrepreneur Terry Benedict (Garcia) tracks down each member of the group who have scattered across America with their respective stashes. The 11 assemble and realize that they have to pay back Benedict and must come up with a new plan.

Led by Danny Ocean (Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Pitt), they head to Amsterdam where they score a job stealing a valuable stock certificate from an agoraphobic millionaire (Krabbe, blink and youíll miss him). But they are pipped to the post by Europeís most accomplished thief The Night Fox who has stolen the document before them.

Enter Isabel Lahirir (Zeta-Jones), an agent for Interpol (or Europol as itís dubbed here) who has a romantic past with Ryan. Sheís on the trail of both The Night Fox and Oceanís mob as they compete to steal a priceless Faberge egg which is being transported from its home in Paris to be exhibited in Rome. The Night Fox, a European playboy (Cassel), makes a bet with Ocean that if Ocean can successfully steal the egg, he will personally take care of his debt to Benedict.

But the plan appears to go awry when Oceanís wife Tess (Roberts) arrives in Rome to help them out and is revealed as an impostor imitating Julia Roberts at the opening of the egg exhibit. Ocean, his wife and his crew, are thrown into jail. In the clumsily structured final reveal, we discover that all is not as it seems.

Zeta-Jones, the only star in the film who plays her role seriously, outshines her male counterparts. Other newcomers to the formula are Cassel as the Night Fox, Robbie Coltrane and Eddie Izzard as criminal lowlifes, and even Albert Finney who appears as a retired criminal mastermind.

Of course no expense is spared in the production, and the extensive use of the European locations in Rome, Paris and Amsterdam is reminiscent of lush 60s caper movies like Charade, Topkapi and The Italian Job. Ironically, a sequel is also being plotted at Paramount for the far more effective Euro-caper remake The Italian Job.

Prod cos: JW Productions, Section Eight
Worldwide dist: Warner Bros, Village Roadshow Pictures
Exec prods: John Hardy, Susan Ekins, Bruce Berman.
Prod: Jerry Weintraub.
Scr: George Nolfi.
DoP: Steven Soderbergh.
Prod des: Philip Messina.
Ed: Stephen Mirrione.
Mus: David Holmes.
Main cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Vincent Cassel, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Eddie Jemison, Robbie Coltrane, Eddie Izzard, Albert Finney.

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