Should I Watch..? Ocean's Twelve
What's the big deal?
Ocean's Twelve is a comedy heist film released in 2004 and is the sequel to the 2001 film Ocean's Eleven, itself a remake of the 1960 movie of the same name. Like its predecessor, it was directed by Steven Soderbergh and features a large ensemble cast comprised of a large list of Hollywood A-listers. The film concerns the efforts of casino owner Terry Benedict to recover the money stolen by Danny Ocean's gang in the first film, forcing the rogues to Europe to engage in a high-stakes battle of wits against a master criminal known as The Night Fox. The film received mixed reviews when it was released and grossed a worldwide total of $362 million, much less than Ocean's Eleven but still enough to make the film the tenth highest grossing movie of the year.
What's it about?
Casino owner Terry Benedict, still angry after being robbed and duped by Danny Ocean, tracks down the various members of Danny's gang and demands his $160 million back plus another $38 million in interest - otherwise, things are going to get really nasty. Reuniting and realising that they only have half the money left, they quickly decide to pull off another heist but not in the US as they are still being sought for the first robberies. Ultimately, after a tip-off, they head to Europe to steal the first-ever stock certificate.
Unfortunately for them, it has already been stolen by master criminal The Night Fox who wishes to engage Danny and his team in a battle of wits - he tasks them with stealing a priceless Fabergé egg and if they can do this, he will settle their debt with Benedict. Things get even more complicated when Rusty's ex, Europol Detective Isabel Lahiri, arrives on the scene and quickly begins to make life difficult for Rusty, Danny and the rest. Looks like the con is back on...
Tess Ocean / herself
Baron François Toulour / Night Fox
George Nolfi *
Release Date (UK)
4th February, 2005
What's to like?
It's like they never left, as though the film carried on unseen by cinema audiences the world over and only now decided to reintroduce them to us. Ocean's Twelve matches the same effortless levels of cool established in the first film with characters, costumes, locations and dialogue all gliding along with the grace of an Olympic ice skater. Like before, Clooney and Pitt have the majority of the action and dialogue on screen and still combine to make a genuinely interesting pairing, one that's especially easy on the eye.
Speaking of which, Zeta-Jones slots into the film's ensemble with the precision of a Swiss watch and does well as Lahiri, the Europol detective who always seems to be one step behind her prey. But the best thing is the view - instead of the neon lights and gaudy imitations of Las Vegas, the film gives us the real thing by shooting in some truly beautiful parts of Italy and this gives the film a little touch of class that it desperately needs.
- While shooting in Rome, Pitt and Clooney were out jogging when they became caught in a storm. Returning to their hotel, the doorman refused them entry as he thought they were homeless vagrants.
- Clint Eastwood was suggested for a cameo as Linus's father Bobby Caldwell. In the end, the scene was shot with Peter Fonda in the role but it was ultimately cut from the final picture.
- Despite the mixed critical reception, director Soderbergh maintains that this is his favourite entry in the Ocean's trilogy.
What's not to like?
The problem with the first film was the overwhelming sense of smug satisfaction wafting through the picture. It just about got away with it by having a decent story with a satisfying conclusion but alas, Ocean's Twelve badly misses the boat. The smugness is positively rampant this time around, even if most of the cast are forced into mere cameos in order to accommodate George and Brad's ever-growing egos. I can't ever recall a scene that utilised the characters played by Carl Reiner, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison as well as the apparent appearances by Eddie Izzard, Robbie Coltrane, Topher Grace or Cherry Jones. Where were they all?
But the biggest let-down, besides not finding the time or space to fit so many stars in, was the story which is so needlessly convoluted as to almost be surplus to requirements. The whole film seems to happen in such a way that the action would have resolved itself regardless of what the characters actually did. Instead of being clever, the film delivers a false narrative from the start meaning that when the ending arrives, you feel cheated and angry because everything you've just seen feels pointless. If all I wanted from a film was to look at pretty celebrities in fancy locations, I would have flicked through an issue of OK! or Hello! or some other piece of narcissistic trash masquerading as journalism. What I wanted from Ocean's Twelve was an entertaining heist flick but like the victim of a robbery, I too was left empty-handed.
Should I watch it?
Unless you're interested in a bunch of celebrities appearing in what feels like a slideshow of holiday photos then I suggest staying well clear of Ocean's Twelve. Devoid of the intelligence of the first film and helplessly pandering to the egos of its stars, the film is a massive disappointment on every level - lacking in charm, wit and atmosphere. This might have been a classic with a much better screenplay but this self-indulgent trip to Europe's prettiest locations feels forced, uninteresting and dishonest. It is, to spell it out bluntly, nowhere near as good as the first film.
Great For: celeb spotters, anyone thinking of going to Italy on holiday, George Clooney and Brad Pitt's ego
Not So Great For: fans of the first film, George Nolfi's reputation, anyone trying to follow the story
What else should I watch?
The next, and possibly final, film was the desperate-sounding Ocean's Thirteen but my experience with this wretched sequel has dissuaded me from watching it any time soon. And despite the current trend for all-female remakes, the Ocean's Eight spin-off seems unnecessary to me - these films seem to appeal to both genders equally so what was the point? Happily, this leaves us with the one that started it all - Ocean's Eleven marries up the coolness of its stars with a brilliant script written by Ted Griffin and a wonderfully retro atmosphere that might cause viewers to recall the 1960 Rat Pack original Ocean's 11. It is, in every respect, far superior to this lame love-in.
Rome has often featured in films which either plunder the cities Ancient Roman heritage or exploits their legacy in a more contemporary tale. The Talented Mr Ripley (coincidentally also starring Matt Damon), Nine or even the sequel to The Da Vinci Code - Angels And Demons - are all better films than Ocean's Twelve and all of them offer something different like an intelligent thriller, a musical melodrama or a semi-religious piece of conspiracy nonsense.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox