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OCEANS TWELVE
The big easy
Nils van der Linden
Posted Fri, 31 Dec 2004

Out of 5:Ocean

By all accounts, filming 'Oceanís Twelve' wasnít exactly a chore for George and the gang. And it shows.

The sense of fun that characterised the production ("Iím not even sure we were making a movie," Brad quipped at its premiere) literally fills every frame as some of Hollywoodís biggest simply have a gas on screen.

And who could blame them?

There are certainly worse jobs than you and a few friends being paid to slum through prime locations, decked out with the latest and trendiest styles and hi-tech gear ó doing the odd bit of acting on the side. Nothing too taxing, mind you, just being yourself in front of the camera, really.

Such self-indulgence usually spells weak direction, which means that disaster isnít far off, but in the case of 'Oceanís Twelve' itís one of the filmís strengths ó as you watch the antics and natural banter, you donít really care that the plotís about as hard to find as a hair on Bruce Willisí head.

After all, the story provides little more than a backdrop for Clooney and co to live it up (and plot and steal, of course) across Europe.

You see, Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his crew are in a bit of a tough spot. The Las Vegas casino owner they ripped off in the first film, Terry Benedict, has tracked them down and wants his money back: $160-million plus interest. Oceanís Eleven clearly need to pull another heist, but, with their identities now revealed, are forced to target Europe instead. In Amsterdam, Rusty Ryan (Pitt), bumps into an old flame, Isabel Lahiri, now a top Interpol crime buster who, of course, also happens to be really sexy. Sheís played by Catherine Zeta Jones, after all, and is soon on their trail.

Further adding to the crewís woes is The Nightfox, an aristocratic French playboy and part-time burglar, keen to face off with Ocean in a not-so-gentlemanly competition to determine the better thief.

As is to be expected, things go horribly pear-shaped and Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) and Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle, awful Cockney accent still intact) are forced to call in the help of Oceanís wife (Julia Roberts) for the filmís scam highlight ó an hilarious turn involving equal parts movie star impersonation and Willis.

But, while this deception is on a larger scale than it was in the original, they suffer from the same problem as the movie on a whole: theyíre simply too big.

Granted, if the filmmakers hadnít increased the sequelís scope it would have been almost identical to 'Oceanís Eleven', but theyíve stretched themselves a bit too far.

The action is simply too spread out, leaving this film less focused than the original. The heist too is so elaborate that when it is unveiled, layer after layer after layer, the simple reality of what actually happened behind all the sleight of hand is a bit of a let down.

Never fear, though. This isnít a sequel in the stinker 'Speed 2' category, but rather a slight step back from an excellent original. Thatís testament to the actors, especially Pitt and Zeta Jones who dominate proceedings, for ladling out that sense of fun and enjoyment. It really is infectious.

Kudos too to Steven Soderbergh and composer David Holmes for maintaining the slick, debonair style and sophisticated class of the original.

And while 'Oceanís Thirteen' may prove a leap too far (especially in terms of cheesy sequel titles), part two of the Danny Ocean story is most things a crime caper should be: mindlessly entertaining fun with just enough twists and turns to keep you guessing ó but not thinking too much, of course.


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