September 30, 2005
Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Julia Roberts, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Vincent Cassel, Eddie Jemison, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Robbie Coltrane, Eddie Izzard, ,
With big budget, star-studded casts like the one in Ocean’s Twelve (2004), there is always the danger of having them look too smug and self-indulgent instead of having fun along with the audience. Ocean’s Eleven (2001) managed to straddle this line quite well, resulting in an entertaining popcorn movie. Director Steven Soderbergh kept his cast in check, never letting them go too far over-the-top and shooting it with a style that was always interesting to watch. The big question for the sequel is if he could pull of the same feat without repeating himself too much.
Danny Ocean (Clooney) is supposed to be retired and enjoying domestic bliss with Tess (Roberts). However, old habits die hard and she catches him casing a jewelry story on their anniversary. To make matters worse, Terry Benedict (Garcia) is still hot on their trail, tracking down all of the original eleven and letting them in know, in his own casually menacing way, that he wants the $160 million, plus interest, that they stole from him in the first film in two weeks time. So, Danny gets everybody back together to figure out what to do. Obviously, they need to pull another job but they are too high profile in the United States, so they go to Europe where they cross paths with a rival master thief known as the Night Fox (Cassel).
If the first film was about Danny’s redemption by reconciling with Tess, then Ocean’s Twelve is about Rusty’s (Pitt) redemption by reconciling with his past love, Isabel Lahiri (Zeta-Jones), a determined Interpol agent. It elevates the movie ever so slightly above the standard heist story by giving everything that happens a somewhat poignant spin.
Matt Damon demonstrates excellent comic timing in this movie and is the real stand-out in this strong cast. Early on, his character asks Rusty if he could have more to do this time out and this moment comes across as somewhat self-reflexive. It’s as if Damon were almost asking if he could have more screen time. And he does as his character accompanies Danny and Rusty to a meeting only to be totally out of his depth as the square, geeky member. In some respects, he is the group’s stammering conscience.
Once again Soderbergh keeps the pace brisk and breezy, making the two-hour running time fly by. Like its predecessor, Ocean’s Twelve is beautifully shot with atmospheric lighting, an eclectically groovy soundtrack from British DJ David Holmes (that evokes a ‘60s Euro-lounge vibe) and tight editing that makes it stylistically consistent with the first movie. Soderbergh is an excellent visual storyteller and this is evident in several scenes that he depicts without any dialogue, instead resorting to music married to visuals that conveys exactly what’s going on. He understands the kind of movie he’s making and doesn’t try to be too cute or wink knowingly at the audience, instead focusing at the task at hand: making a confident, entertaining movie. Granted, Ocean’s Twelve is no Traffic (2000) but you could do a lot worse with two hours of your time.
Just a theatrical trailer making one wonder if this DVD was rushed through production as Soderbergh almost always does a commentary track with his screenwriter. A missed opportunity to be sure as the director always delivers an entertaining and informative commentary.