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Friday February 4, 2005
'A bunch of actors enjoying themselves': Ocean's Twelve
George Clooney, grey as a sleek old badger, comes snuffling back into view as super-thief Danny Ocean in this horrifically smug and disappointing sequel to Steven Soderbergh's 2001 smash-hit caper Ocean's Eleven. That was an inspired improvement on the 1960 Frank Sinatra vanity vehicle. But it's actually this follow-up, with its lazy, thrown-together plot and insufferably complacent Hollywood in-jokery, which truly keeps faith with the rotten Rat Pack original. Everyone looks tired and Brad Pitt increasingly resembles Minnie Driver's long-lost butch sister.
We begin three years on from the legendary Vegas score in which predatory meanie Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) had zillions of dollars stolen from his hotels. Almost all of the gang have pissed away their shares of the loot, which is just as well as Benedict has tracked everyone down and bullies them into reuniting for another job to pay him back. Do our heroes defy him? Or do they pretend not to defy him, while secretly preparing to put one over on him?
Er ... no and no. Rather pathetically, all they do is just obediently muster for more upscale thieving at their enemy's bidding, and their number is augmented by some new love-interest: Rusty (Brad Pitt) is in Italy getting some rumpissimo-pumpissimo with Isabel Lahiri, a beautiful law-enforcement officer with "Europol". Her daddy happens to be a master-thief, and it is his un-dramatised expertise which is to furnish an abysmally perfunctory plot resolution. Isabel is played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, mincing about in her "Europol" uniform and her Welsh accent re-surfaces when she isn't acting very well: ie, 100% of the time. Now the gang have to sticky-finger prize goods all over Europe, but they have a rival French heistmeister to contend with, played by Vincent Cassel.
The awful truth is that, no matter how much we all wanted this to be good, the Ocean's movies (and there may be more) have, with one sequel, jumped the shark, as they say in television. They have passed the point of credibility and interest, and they have done so quite simply by going to Europe. They have used multi-city Euro tourist-locations to pep up the movie's surface interest and it just makes it cheesy, flatulent and dull.
The first part takes place in Amsterdam - though this family movie high-mindedly avoids dope cafes or prostitutes in windows - and a really extraordinary amount of non-action happens in claustrophobic and very boring Amsterdam hotel rooms. Then we shift location to Rome, where the idea is to steal a fabulous Fabergé egg guarded by infra-red light sensorszzzzz.
It's a well shot but vacuous film, and there's a not-very-funny idea of having Ocean's wife Tess, played by Julia Roberts, disguise herself as ... Julia Roberts! The gags about Roberts's celebrity are of course concerned merely to flatter, and Bruce Willis contributes a cameo which is as profoundly humourless as only he could make it. There are a couple of good jokes: Elliott Gould interrupted in the middle of a Tarot reading, and Topher Grace as a screwed-up actor trashing his hotel room. The rest of the time it's just a bunch of actors enjoying themselves. For the first film, we the audience were invited to the party, too. Not this time.
Who's who in Ocean's Twelve