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December 2004


By Julian Roman
Ocean's 12

Distributor: Warner Bros.
Film Genre: Comedy, Crime
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Screenwriter: George Nolfi
Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bruce Willis, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Vincent Cassel, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, Elliott Gould, Eddie Jemison, Bernie Mac, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner
   

 

   

Sitting through Ocean's Twelve is like spending two hours watching advertisements for a trendy fashion magazine, beautiful people dressed in stylish clothes smiling and doing nothing. They're supposed to be cool, but boring will never amount to cool no matter how hard Hollywood tries. It's a valiant effort. Steven Soderbergh, a good director that's criminally lost his way, pulls out all the stops in a vain attempt to make Ocean's Twelve bearable. He's got exotic locales, an upbeat techno score, flashy camera tricks, celebrity cameos, sexual innuendo, and a bad guy with a French accent. But it's all a wash without the fundamentals, a decent script and capable actors are essential to the success of a film. An important subplot involving Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones in a supposed romance fails miserably. They have no chemistry and their scenes together are painfully awkward. It might have worked with a different pairing, but the whole point of Ocean's Twelve is a clique of famous actors chumming it up on screen.

The story begins three years after the big heist in Las Vegas. Someone has tipped off Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) to the whereabouts of his robbers. He hunts down the whole gang and gives them two weeks to repay his stolen money with interest. Too hot to ever work again in America, the crew sets off to pillage Europe. They soon find themselves in a high-stakes competition with the crook that sold them out. He wants to prove that he is a greater thief than the infamous Danny Ocean (George Clooney). Hijinks ensue with Rusty's (Brad Pitt) former girlfriend, Investigator Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones), hot on their trail.

Right off the bat, the movie goes south with one of the cardinal sins of bad script writing. Catherine Zeta-Jones has a five minute monologue that brings everyone up to speed with the plot. She literally explains to the audience who the good guys are, who the bad guys probably are, and the most valuable object they can steal. Then everything degrades into a horrendously jumbled series of events that require the complete suspension of disbelief and common sense. Characters also disappear from sight until returning conveniently at the end. They probably wrote the script around the availability of the actors. That way Ocean's Twelve has every character recurring, if only for a few minutes. They would have been better served cutting peripheral characters and concentrating on the leads. It would have helped the plot and kept the film from being so disjointed.

The actors with screen time look like they're having a blast. It's like going on a paid vacation with your best buddies. That's part of the draw of Ocean's Twelve. Soderbergh wants your envy. This was the key to the success of The Rat Pack, the stars of the original Ocean's Eleven, for all you film neophytes. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop were the kings of cool in their day. They starred in crappy films, like Ocean's Eleven, because audiences wanted to see them together doing their thing. This has not translated with the new movies. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, and Catherine Zeta-Jones don't have the vibe the original Rat Pack had. They're just big money movie stars in an awful sequel to a mediocre remake of a silly film. Pray they have the decency to not subjugate us to an Ocean's Thirteen.