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USA 2004/7
Directed by
Steven Soderbergh
106/113 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Clare Larkman
2.5 stars

Ocean's Twelve / Ocean's Thirteen

Synopsis: Several years after the smooth and audacious heist perpetrated in Ocean's Eleven (2001) the crack team are drawn together again, plus one, to save their lives by returning Terry Benedict's money. Oh yeah, plus interest...

Welcome back George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, Elliot Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner, Shaobo Qin, Eddie Jemison and hello Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vincent Cassel (with nods to Robbie Coltrane, Albert Finney, Bruce Willis and Jeroen Krabbé).

This sequel is actually truer to Steven Soderbergh's style than its precursor. Soderbergh returns to greater experimentation with time frames and camera work, creating more of the feel of Full Frontal, the film he made after Ocean's 11. At the same time, Ocean's 12 is less heist (even though there are several heists instead of one) and more talk, as the robberies take a back seat to the characters' interactions. Some people will be disappointed and even confused by Soderbergh's less than sure-footed handling of the multi-faceted plot and interrelationships. He did it better in films like Traffic, but Ocean's 12 still hangs together well.

The characters' interplay and dialogue are what the film has going for it. It is funny, easy-going, self-effacing and clever. Soderbergh likes to see what he can get away with but doesn't insult or patronise his audience. This is the kind of sequel where the director and actors relax, anticipating that the audience will be a little indulgent with old friends. If you're prepared for some fun, you'll be highly entertained but if you are expecting a tightly plotted genre-piece you may feel let down.

Ocean’s Twelve was followed by the gratuitous Ocean’s Thirteen, which was praised in some quarters for returning to the plot-focussed dynamics of Ocean's Eleven. The latter point is true but fails to recognize that the plot is nonsense. Part of the success of the first in the series was the genuine cleverness of the way in which we as an audience were worked over watching the boys trying to beat the house. Here everything falls into place glibly (even including wheeling in a $36m magnitron, whatever that is). Where there is no resistance and no overcoming there is no real interest. Trying not to be defeated by the convolutions of the plot is about the only thing that keeps one watching. It certainly is not Al Pacino doing his schtick or Ellen Barkin yet again playing the slattern. Some people might enjoy a lot of wealthy Hollywood celebs earning an awful lot of cash but probably more will feel ripped-off.




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