Ocean's Twelve

Reviewer Philippa Hawker
December 9, 2004
Got a light? Rusty (Brad Pitt) functions as the PA  to Danny Ocean's (George Clooney) chief executive.

Got a light? Rusty (Brad Pitt) functions as the PA to Danny Ocean's (George Clooney) chief executive.
Photo: Supplied

(M) General release

* * *

At the end of Ocean's Eleven, Stephen Soderbergh's confident, slick, jokey, all-star caper movie, you had to wonder what was left for this First XI of specialist criminals but happy retirement.

George Clooney had masterminded the theft of more than $100 million from three Las Vegas casinos. The job had gone with scarcely a hitch; his gang had barely suffered as much as a broken fingernail; George won his former wife, Julia Roberts, back from evil casino boss Andy Garcia; the proceeds were divided evenly, without a hint of rancour. This was, surely, the ultimate Happy Ending.

What could go wrong? Could there be a snake in this Garden of Eden? Anything to provoke a sequel? Yes, at least in the sense that there is a successor to the movie - same cast, same attitude, same schtick, a couple of new characters and criminal challenges.

Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his gang have tried to go straight on the proceeds of their megascam: they have spent their money in different ways, some more successfully than others.

One by one, they are visited by the man they stole it from, Terry Benedict (Garcia). He has an ultimatum for them: pay the money back with interest. Within a fortnight.

Benedict isn't all that scary or persuasive, as he intrudes (in some nicely comic scenes) into the new lives of the boys. Among other things, they're into marriage, hotels, a recording career, a stab at stand-up comedy.

That crime is their true vocation is, ultimately, a good enough reason for the team to agree to his demand, which is executed without a threat of violence (in this version of the criminal world, there seems to be a gentlemen's agreement about refraining from the use of force). They'll rustle up the required sum from more heists.

Rusty (Brad Pitt), who functions as the PA to Danny's chief executive, sets things in train for a job outside the United States, where they are too well-known: Amsterdam is their destination.

Just as in the previous movie, Danny had an ulterior motive, involving a woman, for organising the casino heist, Rusty has a cherchez-la-femme reason for suggesting that they might go to Amsterdam: Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a Europol detective to whom he felt very close (and who came very close to nabbing him a couple of years ago).

But there's another figure in the picture, a master criminal known as the Night Fox, who is bound to make things awkward for the team: they're on the defensive, to some extent, with the terms being dictated by others.

And so, in European locations from Amsterdam to Rome, further capers are executed, in a movie that's genial, entertaining, slickly presented yet slightly dull.

And, amid the small reversals and larger plot twists, there's something a little predictable about how it is going to play out.

Ocean's Twelve seems so sure of itself - of its easygoing charm, its high-wattage cast, running gags, stylish camerawork, pop culture references, casual banter, post-Notting Hill incorporation of the star status of Roberts into the plot - that it doesn't feel the need to have all that much at stake, in terms of emotion or tension.

Soderbergh and his all-star cast are back for the sequel, but so is the first film's prevailing sense of self-satisfaction.