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Fun has been stolen from heist sequel

A scene from 'Ocean's 12'

C-J Rating:
PG-13; profanity. (2 hr.)

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George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts star in director Steven Soderbergh's sequel about a pack of glamorous thieves. This convoluted heist picture has inside jokes, a smattering of cameos and some good moments, but the players seem to have had more fun making it than the audience will have watching it.

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December 10, 2004
The Courier-Journal

It was fun to feel part of the beautiful people's casino heist the first time around, but this time Danny Ocean and his gang of clever thieves seem to be having fun without us.

In "Ocean's Twelve," which follows the 2001 Rat Pack remake "Ocean's Eleven," the players are positively giddy with their own cuteness — and the amount of money they expect to make from this self-conscious caper flick.

Director Steven Soderbergh's overzealous use of hand-held camera shots is exasperating rather than cool, and the screenplay by George Nolfi is ridiculously protracted for such a fizzy film. Despite its tendency toward smugness and its messy plot, the movie keeps us awake by virtue of its handsome cast and a smattering of fun scenes.

The sequel goes like this: Slick Las Vegas mogul Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) wants his money back — all $160 million plus interest, which the gang stole from his theft-proof casino vault in the first movie. He tracks down each member of Ocean's team and demands repayment, or else.

The high-rolling crew has spent most of the loot. So, to save their skins, the gang led by Danny Ocean (a relaxed George Clooney with a Cary Grant wardrobe) and Rusty Ryan (a sharkskin-suited Brad Pitt) travels to Amsterdam, Rome and Lake Como, Italy, to pull off a series of jobs.

In Europe, they fall under the scrutiny of an investigator played by the feisty and glamorous Catherine Zeta-Jones and the rival of a world-class thief played by Vincent Cassell.

Clooney as Ocean is the leader of the pack, but he's mostly eye candy. The hardest-working actors in this movie are Matt Damon, who is good at making his pickpocket character seem earnest and dumb when he's really calculatingly smart; Pitt as the gang's go-to guy; Julia Roberts, who is best in a scene where she impersonates/spoofs her celebrity self; and Zeta-Jones, whose perfect figure in red leather will turn female movie-goers green with envy.

Funnyman Bernie Mac is barely seen. His character is nabbed by the police early and spends most of the movie in jail. And the talented Don Cheadle, who plays an explosives expert, also is underused.

Inside jokes, cameo appearances and references to other movies and celebrities are part of the game. It's a movie that aims to be playful, and we want to go along. But when it's over, you have to wonder: Who's being conned?

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