"Ocean's Twelve" is the sequel to the blockbuster film "Ocean's Eleven," and any follow-up to a major movie provokes nervousness about its effect on the previous movie's audience, who have once again filled theater seats.
Director Steven Soderbergh decided to take a new vantage point with this one, shooting it in Amsterdam, Rome and other European cities. It has a softer and more energetic feel to it, allowing the characters to show more of their personalities, rather than just their thievery skills.
Catherine Zeta-Jones joins the cast as witty Isabel, a detective who once had an intimate relationship with Rusty (Brad Pitt) before he flew the coop. Julia Roberts returns as Tess, the slightly aggravated, hopelessly involved wife of ringleader Danny Ocean (George Clooney). Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the enraged owner of the casinos that Ocean hit, has tracked down the gang members and given them two weeks to round up all the money they'd stolen, plus interest (a lot of interest), with the alternative being death. The group, however, doesn't seem to understand the consequence of not gathering the money, and the plot is rather leisurely.
Eventually, the thieves learn that Benedict was tipped off about their whereabouts by the elusive thief Night Fox (Vincent Cassel). Night Fox and Ocean had been mentored by the same man, who considered Ocean the better of the two crooks. This statement upset the Night Fox, a wealthy and bored French baron, and he challenges Ocean to a game of "Can You Steal the Object I Pick?" If Ocean wins, the Night Fox pays off the debt to Benedict; if he fails, Ocean must admit the Fox's superiority.
Of course, Ocean agrees, and the capture of a heavily guarded Faberge egg ensues. While funnier and more entertaining than its predecessor, "Ocean's Twelve" is choppier and harder to follow, resulting in an audience that's laughing and wondering why at the same time. Unexpectedly, Matt Damon is the major cause of the chuckles, along with the laid-back interaction between George Clooney and Brad Pitt, who seem to be old buddies catching up most of the time, rather than thieves-on-the-run.
Bernie Mac is captured early on by the cops because of a traced credit card. Many other main characters from "Eleven" are shunted out of the limelight, either caught bickering or staring thoughtfully into space. The acrobatic Shaobo Qin is folded into a suitcase so as not to be seen while exiting a hotel and is hardly noticed afterward, as the luggage is lost at the bus station.
Saul (Carl Reiner) chooses not to participate in the mission at all in the beginning, saying he wants "the last check he writes to bounce," but he conveniently turns up to save the guys (and Tess, who is also mixed up in the scheme this time around) when they are caught in a clinch.
"Ocean's Twelve" is worth seeing, though it might not be what you initially expected. You'll probably love this one better than the first.
"Ocean's Twelve" is rated PG-13 for language.
Brooke Odom is a freshman at Hopewell High School.