|Ocean's Twelve (2004)
Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac
Director: Steven Soderbergh
“Ocean’s Twelve” is a movie that knows it doesn’t have to try very hard. While those involved with the film are engaging in more trademark rapid-fire improv, they’re hamstrung by a setup that’s far beneath them, yet do not seem concerned by their dilemma. This is not to say the movie doesn’t have its share of thrilling or amusing moments. It is just that those moments are mired in a hazy setup, murky camera work – Steven Soderbergh didn’t direct the movie so much as he caught it on film – and wrapped up with no payoff whatsoever.
The movie begins with Danny and Tess Ocean (George Clooney and Julia Roberts) trying valiantly to live the suburban life, but it is not long before Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the casino owner who served as Danny’s mark the first time around, hunts them down (as well as the rest of the crew, one by one, which must have cost him all of his airline miles) and informs them he wants his money back, with interest. Since they’re all pretty “hot” (exposed) in the States, they head to Amsterdam to get in on some good work. Trouble starts when they discover that they’re being tracked by Det. Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who happens to be the ex of Rusty (Brad Pitt). Worse, they’re being taunted by a master thief called the Nightfox, who steals whatever they’re after before they do, then leaves them notes informing them of his superiority.
The cast clearly had a good time making this movie, as evidenced by the carefree scenes on the train station platform and the meeting with Matsui (Robbie Coltrane), where Matsui, Rusty and Danny all speak in complicated riddles and leave it up to newbie Linus (Matt Damon) to figure out what’s being said. But those moments are wasted on a script with a non-linear timeline that seems structured for the express purpose of distracting the viewer from asking some very relevant questions about the motives of the characters and the plausibility of nearly every outcome. The third act, in particular, is a mess; it features stunt casting, shameless self-parody, and a tearful reunion that has no place whatsoever within these walls. It all seemed stitched together from text messages in someone’s Blackberry.
In retrospect, little else should have been expected of “Ocean’s Twelve.” Its successor, “Ocean’s Eleven,” was definitely more fun and executed far better, but is not exactly the benchmark for heist movies. The only benchmark “Ocean’s Twelve” will likely serve is how sometimes more is much, much less.