**** (out of 5)
December 10, 2004
George Clooney as DANNY OCEAN
Brad Pitt as RUSTY RYAN
Matt Damon as LINUS CALDWELL
Catherine Zeta-Jones as ISABEL LAHIRI
Andy Garcia as TERRY BENEDICT
Julia Roberts as TESS OCEAN
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Okay, let’s cut to the chase. Is “Ocean’s Twelve” as good as “Ocean’s Eleven”? The answer is no, but then again, what were you expecting? Could an unplanned-for sequel ever match the snappy freshness of the first film?
But even though this isn’t the same, it’s still a pretty good film – better than some of the garbage that’s been coming to a theatre near you this season. Heck, I’d see “Ocean’s Twelve” twelve times over before I subjected myself to movies like “Alexander” and “Closer.”
As sequels go – especially ones that were never meant to be – “Ocean’s Twelve” covers its bases. The plot is a little thin as the old Ocean’s Eleven gang must go to Amsterdam to pull of a heist that will pay off Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). New to the mix is Catherine Zeta-Jones as the EuroPol detective trying to bust things up. Of course, it doesn’t hurt things for her that she used to have a pretty strong relationship with Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt).
In some ways, “Ocean’s Twelve” is a great inside joke film. While it doesn’t provide the overt inside jokes, it has a way of making the audience feel like it’s part of the fun. A lot of this is achieved by Steven Soderbergh’s ability to bring the entire cast back. But while some of the folks were underused in the first movie (after all, how can you really develop eleven characters in two hours?), they’re almost completely lost here. Leading this list are Bernie Mac and Casey Affleck, who are great supporting actors left in the dust of the film.
Others in the team, like Carl Reiner and Don Cheadle, have larger roles, but I still can’t fight the feeling that they were partially wasted on this film as well. Less of an ensemble piece, this movie is more a vehicle for Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Even the top stars like Julia Roberts and Matt Damon are given less meat.
“Ocean’s Twelve” is a Steven Soderbergh curtain call, featuring the big star buddies he’s worked with over the past decade. All he needed was Terence Stamp from “The Limey,” and the collection would be complete.
At times, “Ocean’s Twelve” falls into the trap of letting the actors play and have fun, which seems to be a staple in Soderbergh’s films. However, Soderbergh is also the first to point out that if how much fun the actors had on a film is indicative of the quality, then “Smokey and the Bandit” would have been the greatest film ever made. Unfortunately, Soderbergh falls into the trap of having too much fun.
There are some pretty clever twists in the story, although many of them are overplayed. One particular example involves Tess (Julia Roberts) near the end of the film. However, once the joke is laid out there, Soderbergh turns it into an overdone SNL sketch, going on about five minutes beyond where he should have ended it.
Otherwise, Soderbergh’s indie film and experimental techniques are stunning in this piece. It’s not a crisp and powerful as something like “Traffic,” but it gives you something different to look at. He manages to be both retro and progressive at the same time. And, of course, if you’re into the music of the 60s and 70s, you can’t go wrong with the soundtrack.
Oh, and while having your actors eat while they discuss the heist might be realistic, I got really tired of seeing Brad Pitt munching on Dorito’s through his dialogue. Come on folks, this is Hollywood. It ain’t about realism.