Well, the success of Steven Soderbergh's 2001 remake of Ocean's Eleven (originally a fairly lightweight Rat-Pack comedy) almost guaranteed a sequel. The trouble probably came with the sheer logistics of bringing together such a vast and eclectic cast, a difficulty made marginally easier by the fact that most of them were friends. But what a cow to cash in on? Just the names alone would guarantee further success, so all they needed to do was come up with a halfway decent script, and then bring to the table all the charm and style that was prevalent in the original outing. Seems simple, right?
Dubbed, much to their dismay, by Danny Ocean's wife as Ocean's Eleven, the team find themselves back together and in a race against time to pay back casino owner Terry Benedict. Benedict, whom they wronged in the first movie, is baying for blood, and the pack have to find the best part of 100 million dollars in less than two weeks. Pulling all the stops out, they go to work on a serious of heists, but soon find themselves out-manoeuvred by a rival thief, known as The Fox. The Fox offers them a challenge, to take the title of the best thief in the business, and Danny has no choice but to accept. With back-stabbing and betrayals across the board, can the team hold it together and outwit their opponent or will they end up facing the wrath of the vengeful Mr. Benedict.
I think that the general consensus is that Twelve is not as good as Eleven, and having not yet seen Thirteen, I cannot pass comment on the third instalment. However I would agree, this is quite a shallow little affair, piggy-backing on the success of the first outing and hoping to attract the same followers. It has all the same ingredients, style, stars and cool lines, but the mix is not quite right, and it relies quite heavily of the audience forgiving the meandering, convoluted plot, and accepting the fact that this is basically just a bunch of big names having a ball. In essence, this is what Soderbergh has done - collected the biggest names once again, thrown a few more into the affair and let them loose to have a big party in Europe - and this tactic is both the movie's biggest downside and potentially its one redeeming feature.
You see, the plot is far too contrived to bother fully getting to grips with, and if you try, you're likely to fall into one of the many big holes that they have left. Without the story, you find yourself riding out this trip in the company of some big names who are smiling and quipping their way through Europe. This can be a bit tedious after a while - and the movie does suffer from being a bit too long - but in the same respect it is quite nice knowing that the actors who have teamed up to portray this bunch of loveable rogues actually had a great deal of time putting this nonsense together. The chemistry is great, the genuine friendship between many of them is evident in many of the scenes, and arguably this makes the shallow frivolities strangely engaging.
Clooney is centre-stage again, on good enough form, with a few fantastic moments, and his work alongside Pitt is reliably good. They largely just appear to be playing themselves, and the friendship between them is obvious and realistic. As I've said, it doesn't quite make up for the fact that the script and story are not up to scratch, but it certainly makes for a much more enjoyable watch. Julia Roberts has a ball playing herself (although it is arguably a fatal flaw in the movie's plotting) and Catherine Zeta Jones appears to get younger every year, but still can't act worth a damn.
All the usual suspects are on board from the original, from Matt Damon (who, to be fair, isn't so convincing as being naive after consolidating his Bourne persona) to Don Cheadle (still with the stupid accent), Bernie Mac (who gets stuck behind bars for a protracted period of the movie, making his character almost defunct) and Casey Affleck and Scott Caan (who still have some of the best banter). Elliot Gould is still wearing peach suits, and Andy Garcia's role comes across as nothing more than suit-clad, cigar-chomping mafia-esque boss. Really, if they were going to just fold and give all the money back when he came after them, why did they bother stealing it in the first movie?
As it is, Ocean's Twelve is an entertaining but shallow affair, which is made pretty watchable just by the presence of so many popular stars having a laugh for the two hour runtime. There are a few stupid moments which could have been skipped (all the zoom shots of the Twelve being escorted out to cars in Italy are ridiculous - after about the fifth you get the picture) and Soderbergh isn't quite on as good form as he was for the original, but this just about has enough going for it to make it worth a go, and certainly appears to work as a nice stop-gap between the decent first outing and the supposedly solid third episode. Comes recommended as part of the pack, but perhaps does not work by itself.
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