Cool, vacant and smoothly entertaining, "Ocean's Twelve" is a heist movie in which the heist gets hijacked by the characters.
This is hardly unexpected in a film that stars a virtual Hollywood who's-who; and it's likely exactly what moviegoers will enjoy about the movie. Who doesn't want to see George Clooney nuzzling alongside Julia Roberts, sipping champagne on the patio of an Italian villa? They're just so darn attractive and wealthy looking and on top of the world.
For that matter, who doesn't want to see Bernie Mac flashing freshly buffed fingernails or hear Don Cheadle muttering in a Cockney accent or watch Elliot Gould blustering about in gaudy outfits that would make Cher blush? Add Brad Pitt and newfound love/hate gal Catherine Zeta-Jones and you've got the makings of a calendar's worth of adorable rascals.
Ah, but what to do with them? That must have been the dilemma for director Steven Soderbergh, and his solution is more than a bit fuzzy. Oh, well, better to just look at all those stars and European locations and forget about the plot.
But there will always be nitpickers, so here's the essence of the story: A few years after having robbed a Vegas casino, the casino's owner (Andy Garcia) tracks down Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his cohorts. He gives them two weeks to pay back the money or else.
Realizing they are too well-known in America to pull off the big job they need, and that free vacations should come as part of any Hollywood star's perk list, they head for Europe.
Little do they know that all this is being manipulated by the World's Greatest Thief (Vincent Cassel), who wants to sort of challenge them to a thief-off. If that sounds far-fetched, remember that Don Cheadle has a Cockney accent in this movie.
Immediately on their trail in Europe is master-thief chaser Isabel Lahiri (Zeta-Jones), who improbably turns out to be the former lover of veteran master thief and Ocean buddy Rusty Ryan (Pitt). The film's one great problem, aside from not making much sense, is that these two ridiculously attractive and clearly talented actors have no real chemistry together and take on mannequin characteristics while interacting. Weird.
Doesn't matter, though. "Ocean's Twelve" is not about the love; it's not about the action; it's not about the plot. It's about the cool moments and funny bits; and there are plenty of both, peaking with a guest spot from Bruce Willis that rotates around Roberts as Ocean's girlfriend.
The pretty woman virtually vanishes from the first half of the film, but she comes back and rescues the second half and suddenly you remember why this is the biggest female star on the planet. We like her, we really like her.
And yet ... "Ocean's Twelve" may be good entertainment; but it's not really a good movie. It's more like watching a gaggle of celebs engage in playtime. Amusing, sure, but we're talking about one of the most gifted directors alive and some very bright actors.
Is this really worth their time and ours? If there's going to be a "Thirteen," let's hope it's more than "Twelve." In the meantime, though, the dozen will probably do.
You can reach Tom Long at (313) 222-8879 or firstname.lastname@example.org.