‘Ocean’s Twelve’ has star power, but who stole the plot?
On many levels “Ocean’s Twelve” will be a disappointment to those who loved its solid and thoroughly entertaining prequel, 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven.”
For starters it’s not really a heist movie though it contains the occasional caper buried inside plots so tedious and convoluted it’s a waste to try and decipher them, let alone explain them. The character’s motivations are dubious, the felonious tactics (so convincing in “Eleven”) are preposterous, and the film meanders so much it almost seems improvisational. This is a clear case of a director (Steven Soderbergh) lacking a coherent script deciding to let the chemistry and experience of his extraordinarily huge megastar ensemble take over and film the results.
Yes, it’s a mess — but what a fun mess.
After witnessing $160 million disappear from his casino, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) returns as a man with revenge on his mind, seeking, and somehow successfully finding all those responsible.
In the films opening moments we catch up on the original cast who, for reasons unexplained, cower to Benedicts’ threats and decide to pull off another heist to pay him back “with interest.”
The less explained about the story from this point the better. The turf is now Europe and Soderbergh utilizes the lush environs of Amsterdam, Paris and Lake Como for background.
The shrewdest addition is Catherine Zeta-Jones as a “Europol” investigator. In a film full of red herrings, Zeta-Jones is the most powerful — her beauty and on screen pizzazz (regardless of who else is in the scene) easily deflect attention from the film’s inadequacies.
Other new additions include a French playboy whose an expert thief called the “Night Fox” (Victor Cassel) and a cameo by a famous actor who is involved with Julia Roberts in a bit of fourth-wall breaking fun towards the end of the movie that is amusing for about 30 seconds.
George Clooney and Brad Pitt are still magnetic and charming in their respective roles but the big surprise is how funny Matt Damon is as inexperienced Linus who’s seeking a more substantive role in the group’s inner workings. Some of “Ocean’s Twelve’s” best moments leverage Linus’ naivet? against a team of witty, dedicated criminal professionals.
If the installments had been reversed and “Ocean’s Twelve” had been released first then its flaws could be overlooked and there would be greater appreciation for is randomness and the organic interplay between the actors who are clearly having a good time during the shoot.
As it stands, the bar was set very high and more importantly, with a different goal with “Ocean’s Eleven” and while one could make a case that “Twelve” achieves a closer kinetic spirit to the 1960 Rat Pack original, there’s a reason why that film was nearly forgotten. Star power alone rarely a great movie makes.
Rated PG-13 for language