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Arts & Living

Ocean's Twelve: a holiday treat

by By Joe Piedrafite, collegian staff

December 13, 2004

Ocean's Twelve

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Brad Pitt

George Clooney

Warner Bros.

PG-13

125 Min

A-

They're back. Yes, they're ALL back. Trading glitzy and glamorous Las Vegas for exotic European locales, Danny Ocean and his band of accomplices are back for another go around. They have three European targets to shake, each one seemingly more impossible to accomplish then the previous. This time however, Catherine Zeta-Jones becomes a player in the game as Isabel Lahiri., a detective and ex-girlfriend of Brad Pitt's character Rusty Ryan.

With "Ocean's Twelve," you need to go into the film knowing the plot is going to be even more ridiculous and implausible than the first, but so outrageous that it could actually be true. Confusing yes, but it certainly makes for great storytelling.

For those of you out there who missed "Ocean's Eleven" three years ago, here's a quick re-cap: Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his merry men pulled off an unthinkable heist, taking $150 million from three Las Vegas casinos, The MGM Grand, The Mirage and The Bellagio, all owned by casino impresario Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). In addition to taking Benedicts money, they also took his girlfriend (and Danny's ex-wife), Tess (Julia Roberts).

Fast- forward three years to "Twelve" and Benedict wants his money back -- all of it ... plus interest. Since Ocean and Co. are too well-known stateside, they decide to take their venture across the pond and pull scams in Amsterdam and Rome. Obviously, hilarity, mishaps and hijinks ensue. With Benedict breathing down their neck, a mysterious French rival simply known as "Night Fox" seemingly always one step ahead of them and the unstoppable (and extremely sexy) detective Lahiri hot on their trail, "Twelve" constantly keeps the audience guessing "will they or won't they?"

Directing maverick Steven Soderbergh is again at the helm as he was in "Eleven," and he handles his cast with the greatest of ease. Soderbergh doubled as cinematographer, and "Twelve" is a beautifully shot film. All of the locations sparkle and shine, almost leaping off the screen. The final scene with Rusty and Isabel on the Italian coast is exceptionally stunning; with some of the bluest ocean you're bound to see on screen this year. All of the production values for that matter were sumptuous, a constant feast for the eyes, and with slick and sophisticated costumes complimenting the gorgeous sets.

Hollywood royalty is on screen in "Twelve", and the performances are intoxicating. From George Clooney's suave Danny Ocean to Shaobo Quin's hysterical Yen, all of the actors seem completely comfortable in their roles and with each other. The film must have been exciting and fun to make, and you can see how much fun they all really had in their performances. Celebrity cameos are rampant, and they make the film all the more fun. There is one scene in particular with the majority of the cast that will no doubt bring a smile to New England audience's faces, but you'll have to see the movie to find out.

The one-standout performance in "Twelve" in a glittery ensemble (and that's a very hard thing to do) has to be Matt Damon's magnificent turn as Linus Caldwell, a sort of Danny Ocean-in-training. Linus wants to be more involved with the heists this time, and its hysterical watching him fumble through learning the ropes, and you can't help but cheer when it finally comes time for him to step up and take the lead. If there is any justice in my world, Matt Damon would be nominated and win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar this year for his performance of Linus Caldwell, it was that good.

There were some minor problems with "Twelve," mostly its run time. About 20 minutes could have been cut from the film, mostly in the middle. There is also one sub-plot that the film could do without, which also would have trimmed down its running time. While "Ocean's Eleven" was edited at a breakneck pace, "Twelve" seems to lag in a few places, and at times is uneven. The dialogue also leaves a bit to be desired, there are quite a few good one liners, but they feel flat and stagnant next to those of "Eleven."

All in all, Christmas has come a couple of weeks early to Hollywood, as "Ocean's Twelve" will no doubt have Warner Bros. producers seeing mounds of green over the upcoming holiday weekends. While "Twelve" probably won't see much awards season glory, it's just the ticket for the Christmas season. Soderbergh and his crew have created the perfect holiday treat, a light and fluffy piece of cinema that's so delicious it can only come around at this time of year.

Ocean's Twelve: a holiday treat

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