Ocean's Twelve

December 19, 2004

(M, 121 minutes) On general release

Begin with a spicy morsel of back story: three-and-a-half years ago in Rome, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) has a run-in with the law in the shapely form of Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta Jones).

Add some more recent suburban malaise: having "retired" and settled down to domestic bliss with wife Tess (Julia Roberts), Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is getting itchy feet (the same ailment, it turns out, that afflicts Mr Incredible in Pixar's superhero satire The Incredibles, opening next weekend).

Toss in a flimsy premise: Las Vegas casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), from whom Ocean's gang nicked a pretty penny in Steven Soderbergh's first Ocean's Eleven film (2001), turns up declaring my money or your lives.

Borrow an idea from the script Honor Among Thieves about a challenge between the best thieves from America and Europe, which George Nolfi (Timeline) had written and John Woo was scheduled to direct. Add Vincent Cassell to the mix. Find some glamorous locations: Amsterdam, Lake Como, Rome, Paris, etc. Set up some big stars to do cameos (I won't spoil the surprises). Rustle up a decent budget: $US85 million, same as for the earlier film, and not a problem given its box office success. Then let everyone involved enjoy themselves and invite the audience to join in the fun. As sequels go, Ocean's Twelve is hardly world shattering, but it is entertaining.

Smartly directed, loaded with very cool blokey badinage and some engaging in-house humour, it meanders along from one setpiece to the next with a twinkle in its eye and a mischievous trick or two up its sleeve. The whole thing is a cakewalk for Soderbergh, who puts it all together with considerable style, punctuating the pleasurably complicated plot with explanatory flashbacks.