On Screen

Danny’s Dozen Does It Again

 By Kam Williams

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.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity.
Running time: 130 minutes
“Ocean’s 12” is scheduled to appear at Hoyts Cinema in Bangor.

Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones star in "Ocean's 12."

WARNER BROTHERS PHOTO

Director Steven 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, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam and Sicily.

“Ocean’s Twelve” 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 fantasies, too.

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.

Peppered with plenty of humorous asides throughout, the production is frequently funny, if not always exactly plausible.

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.

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