Why does every other movie have to get a sequel? As a child of the ‘80s, I do cherish the Indiana Jones, Lethal Weapon and Back to The Future series (among others), and just this year there were at least two sequels that outdone their predecessors (“Spidey 2” and “Before Sunset” if you’re keeping count), but in most cases this is a recipe for disaster. I loved the hell out of Ocean’s Eleven (even put it on my Top Ten that year), but I would still prefer to see George Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh take on a new challenge than half-assedly redo what they’d already done so well already.
So Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) still feels raw about Danny Ocean (Clooney) stealing both his casino money and his girl (Julia Roberts) three years ago, and now he’s got someone to help him get revenge: the Night Fox (Vincent Cassel). A bored French nobleman, the Fox entertains himself by pulling impossible heists. He fancies himself the best thief in the world, but Ocean’s spectacular Vegas job has made him feel threatened. Hence, he helps Benedict track down Ocean and his crew and challenges them to steal a priceless golden egg before he does, in which case he’ll pay back their debt.
The whole gang’s back, but most of them don’t get anything interesting to do. I honestly can’t think of any cool scene involving Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Edward Jemison, Bernie Mac, Elliot Gould or Shaobo Qin. Even charismatic cat George Clooney doesn’t make much of an impression this time, and Julia Roberts is benched until a rather stupid and self-indulgent (but not unenjoyable) third act twist which also involves her co-star from The Player’s movie-within-a-movie.
For some reason, the performer who gets the most screen time this time around is Catherine Zeta-Jones, who plays a detective hunting the master thieves who also happens to be an ex-girlfriend of Brad Pitt’s character. Sparks could have come out of that, but the two have zero chemistry together and Zeta-Jones makes the mistake of playing her character boringly straight. As Pitt himself put it in an interview, “I think the biggest joke was on Catherine because she actually thought we were making a movie. Being the new kid, nobody told her because she was up running lines and breaking down her character.”
I want to mention elements that do work in “Ocean’s Twelve”, but there isn’t much to pick from. Soderbergh shakes the chronology a little… As a cinematographer, he gives the film an appropriately European look and feel… The “Do I look 50 to you?” bit made me laugh… I mean, the movie’s not dull or anything, it’s just nowhere near as fresh, playful and slick as “Ocean’s Eleven”.
This isn’t Soderbergh’s worst film (dude’s still got some ‘splainin’ to do about Full Frontal), but it’s right down there. It’s an absolutely unnecessary sequel that fails to keep the buzz of the original going, doesn’t bring anything new to the table and makes you seriously dread the prospect of a third installment. In the first film, there was a funny Topher Grace cameo early on and then it just got better and better. Grace cameos again at the start of “Ocean’s Twelve” and it’s a hilarious bit, but it’s all downhill from there. Not a good sign.