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OCEAN’S TWELVE (PG-13) (2004)

Warner Bros.

Official Site

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Producers: Jerry Weintraub

Written by: George Nolfi; characters created by George Clayton Johnson & Jack Golden Russell

Cast: Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould, Vincent Cassel, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Robbie Coltrane, Jeroen Krabbe, Eddie Izzard


It’s slick, it’s suave, it’s stylish. The whole gang from Ocean’s Eleven is back. The sequel boasts even more stars and more fabulous locales than the original, creating a light-hearted heist movie that doesn’t take itself seriously. In fact, when the crew is faced with dire circumstances such as jail time and impending death, they continue joking as if they’re all on a sitcom episode. Maybe they are just that good.

Three and a half weeks ago, or maybe two weeks ago (the flashbacks are so frequent that they become confusing), casino owner Terry Benedict (Garcia) personally searches out each of Ocean’s Eleven to demand back the money stolen from him in the last movie. From Miami to London to New Orleans, when Benedict makes that fateful visit, we get a glimpse of what each of the thieves has done with his money. Now Benedict wants it all back, with interest. Basically, in a wordy meeting of the 11 slightly panicked but well-dressed members, 160 million with three years’ interest means that each of them owes 19 million.

What job can they pull with their limited time span, especially now that they are “too hot to work anywhere in the U.S.”? Not to worry, Rusty Ryan (Pitt) has an idea, and has already booked flights for all of them to Amsterdam. Little does the rest of the group know that Ryan’s plan is concerned more with winning back detective ex-girlfriend Isabel Lahiri (Zeta-Jones) than saving their hides.

In Amsterdam, the crew puts together an elaborate plan to steal the first-ever stock certificate, which is now worth quite a hefty sum, from the well-protected mansion of an eccentric who never leaves his home. Just like the first movie, the result is revealed before the process. A replay of the process shows that Ocean’s group was actually unsuccessful in the heist. Instead, after ingenious planning and sneaky breaking-and-entering tactics, they are met with an empty safe and a recorded message in which a thief named Nightfox (Cassel) reveals that he has already stolen the certificate.

Apparently, this Nightfox character considers himself the best thief in the world, has developed some kind of insecurity complex concerning Daniel Ocean (Clooney), and wants a challenge to once and for all determine who is the best. The target is the Fabergé Coronation Egg, and whichever thief can steal it is crowned the best. Not only that, Nightfox promises that if he loses, he will pay off Ocean’s debt. Because this is a rush job, and they are “forcing it,” as one of the members describes the job, there are few opportunities for the cleverness and nuances that are so successful in the best heist movies. We too feel that the plan is forced and even clumsy.

Sure there are plot twists, and some of them may even explain the forcedness and clumsiness. However, where the big deception was the best part of Eleven, the smaller dispersed deceptions are the worst part of Twelve. The trickeries are entertaining at first, but after a few, we begin to lose track. By the end, the twists have become so tangled that even things which are supposed to make sense don’t. Maybe I just think too many “what ifs” and “how comes” into the movie, but I have a feeling it’s not all my fault.

The cast seems disjointed, and with the exception of Ocean and Ryan, don’t act like they once joined forces to pull an amazing job at the Bellagio. Clooney and Pitt have a rapport that feels real and relaxed. Matt Damon distinguishes himself by taking on a bigger comedic role, and Roberts shines in her few scenes. Zeta-Jones, not in a particularly challenging role, has only to look pretty and deliver her lines with enough flirtatiousness to make us believe Rusty Ryan would stalk her. The others in the star-studded roster are merely stylish props, perhaps purposely written to make way for the bigger names.

—Kelly Hsu

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

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