Ocean's Twelve
directed by Steven Soderburgh
(Warner Brothers, 2004)

You'd like to think the filming of Ocean's Twelve would be like a party: one big, messy, improvisational party with great scenery, a few too many people and that day-after feeling that you couldn't quite take in all the action.

Because that's how Steven Soderbergh's followup to Ocean's Eleven feels: too many plots, some outlandish story requirements and the feeling that he packed in just a few too many cameos that have the movie bursting at the seams.

Yet you don't really mind (except for the ridiculous underwater, hydraulic house-moving part of the plot, which only requires the gang take 15 minutes to accomplish what should take days) because they're all having so much fun.

Several times during Ocean's Twelve -- I admit it -- I got completely lost. What did Brad Pitt just say? Why did Matt Damon's dialogue ring a bell? How did this group of roguish thieves pay for that equipment? Where did they find underwater wetsuits on such short notice in Amsterdam?

But hey, when characters have two weeks to pay back nearly $200 million they stole -- plus interest -- to the casino owner they stole it from in 2001's Ocean's Eleven, to quibble about the mess, the plot holes and the achingly slow start seems meanspirited.

After casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) demands Ocean's Twelve come up with the big bucks, the guys have to travel to Europe for several heists because they're too notorious in the U.S.

Once in Amsterdam and Rome, they're soon caught up in a contest with Europe's Night Fox, a dashing thief who is the main stumbling block between a successful heist that will save their lives, and Benedict's revenge.

Will Our Gang get to the big prize first, or will the Night Fox?

At this point, the plot is nowhere near as elegantly simple as it was in Ocean's Eleven, and there was no attempt at straightening anything out in the editing room, either. There are thefts, and plans, and lots and lots of cast members who come in and out, it seems, solely to get some camera time and remind you they're part of the movie.

So what you have to fall back on, if not plot, is that cast.

And even if Soderbergh's cast is bloated, it still can be loads of fun. When you're just dealing with individual scenes, with actors like George Cooney, Pitt, Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Don Cheadle, Julia Roberts (See? We're already up to too many names), it's loads of fun.

But when the final reckoning comes, you'll find yourself wishing you'd just watched Ocean's Eleven all over again.

by Jen Kopf
7 January 2006

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