Frank Sinatra and
the rest of the Rat Pack never took themselves all
that seriously when they made the original
“Ocean’s 11” back in 1960. And it showed. But
nobody complained because it was enough of a
thrill that so many A-list actors had been
assembled for that star-studded endeavor.
Soderbergh took the same approach several years
ago in mounting his similarly unsatisfying remake,
cavalierly crafting a slapdash romp that was only
a hit because of a big-name cast comprised of the
likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts,
Bernie Mac, Matt Damon, Elliot Gould, Don Cheadle
and Carl Reiner.
So the question
for this highly anticipated sequel was whether
Soderbergh would stick to that tried-and-true
formula and simply serve up another uneven,
celebrity-driven farce or if he would bother to
make a movie memorable for more than its
collection of famous faces?
The good news is
that “Ocean’s Twelve” is more satisfying than
“Eleven” in terms of plot and dialogue, and it
even adds a few additional matinee idols in Bruce
Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Peter Fonda.
Plus, this peripatetic adventure offers
international flavor via generous helpings of
breathtaking cinematography shot across exotic
European locations in Monte Carlo,
Amsterdam and Sicily.
is a convoluted, cat-and-mouse crime caper that
picks up three years after the gang had the nerve
to pilfer $160 million from Las Vegas kingpin
Terry Benedict’s (Andy Garcia) previously
impenetrable casino vault. Since divvying-up their
ill-gotten gains, we see that Danny Ocean
(Clooney) has reconciled with and re-married his
ex-wife, Tess (Roberts), and retired to suburban
Connecticut to live out his days quietly.
The rest of his
crew have been indulging their individual
For instance, con
man Rusty (Pitt) has bought himself a trendy hotel
in Hollywood and safecracker Frank (Mac) has been
having his sensitive fingernails manicured in
upscale salons. Meanwhile British explosives
expert Basher (Cheadle) is attempting to break
into the music business and pickpocket Linus
(Damon) has been dreaming about coming out of
retirement as the brains behind his own operation.
This time, the fun
starts when a stool pigeon rats them all out to
Benedict, and the ruthless mobster wants his money
back immediately — or else. With half of the booty
blown, Danny and company must reconvene and hatch
a plot for an even bigger payday. After some
needlessly confusing shenanigans, they ultimately
settle on stealing a priceless Faberge Egg. By
involving a reluctant Tess in the scheme, they
turn the team into the requisite dozen.
But between them
and the Faberge stands Europol Agent Isabel Lahiri
(Zeta-Jones), an expert at cracking such
sophisticated cases, and Francois Toulour (Victor
Cassel), a foxy, French master thief who is
competing for the same prize.
plenty of humorous asides throughout, the
production is frequently funny, if not always
There’s also a
very clever twist toward the end involving the
then-expecting Roberts, a spoiler that only a
meanie would consider divulging. See it all
resolved with a perfect flourish, which makes
“Ocean’s 12” one of those rare sequels that
actually improves on the original.