Film Reviews

OCEAN’S TWELVE

By • Dec 10th, 2004 •

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QUOTE: Ridiculous heist foisted on us by beautiful actors.

Not only are these actors beautiful, successful, filthy rich, privileged, and think they are talented, we are supposed to be thrilled they had fun making a movie in splendid European capitals.

What spoiled children of other people!

Let me tell each of you what your friends and employees will never admit: You are not blessed by God, cannot heal the sick, and as a society we can live without your contributions to civilization. I’m happy you had so much fun in Europe but do I have to have it shoved down my throat?

Before I review the movie, let me make some nagging observations: George Clooney does not look 50, Brad Pitt is still merrily spellbound by hoodoo witch Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Zeta-Jones is still not royalty but gorgeous, and Julia Roberts was absolutely right: She looks terrible in OCEAN’S TWELVE. Her clothes are horrible. She makes $20 million per film but couldn’t get a hair and makeup team assigned to her? Roberts is poorly photographed without makeup and her unwashed hair is pulled back in a ponytail. She also looks worn-out. Andy Garcia is dressed like a petulant gay couture designer having misplaced his fan. Why did French sex icon Vincent Cassel (remarkable in Gasper Noe’s IRREVERSIBLE) permit them to curl his hair like a fop? Is he too sexy to be in a movie with Pitt?

It’s been three years since Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his 10 man crew, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle), Frank Catton (Bernie Mac), Turk Malloy (Scott Cain), Virgil Malloy (Casey Affleck), Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner), Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), Livingston Dell (Eddie Jemison), and Yen (Shaobo Qin) pulled off one of the most lucrative heists in history, robbing casino executive Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) of $160 million stored in his “impenetrable” Las Vegas vault.

Even though Benedict got insurance money, he wants the money back plus interest. The team reunites to discuss what each has left and how much interest each owes. The gentleman sitting next to me, Las Vegas Weekly’s Arts and Entertainment Editor (remaining shamefully nameless here), was laughing loudly at every single line of dialogue. I couldn’t hear a thing! I starting laughing very loudly myself – randomly – and finally shouted at him: “Happy now? Let’s ruin the movie for everybody!”

Ocean’s men may be brilliant, daring thieves, but they are very lousy businessmen. Each one has been involved in various financial disasters. Since they have basically squandered their individual take, they have to go to Europe and pull a big heist. They have two weeks to come up with – I couldn’t hear the amount – before Benedict comes to kill each of them.

Ryan says lets go to Amsterdam and everybody says okay. Ryan chooses Amsterdam because he is still in love with his former girlfriend, Eurpol chief Isabel Lahiri (Zeta-Jones). But, let’s face it, eleven roles are just too many to follow. Quickly, Bloom declines the con and drops out of the proposed heist and Catton is put in jail. The heist story gets murky so I can only summarize with the best and least of intentions: Francois Toulour (Cassel), a heist master known as “Night Fox,” is told by his mysterious mentor that Ocean’s team is better than he is. So he challenges Ocean to rob an egg. If they succeed before he does, he will pay off the complete debt to Benedict. It’s a perfect deal for Ocean’s team.

Lahiri is on to them from the start, so she rounds up several members of the team and puts them in jail. Caldwell (with the brothers Malloy) comes up with a fantastic plan to bring Tess Ocean (Roberts) to Europe and back into the movie. It’s clever and fun except dumb Bruce Willis can’t tell the difference between a real friend he and his children spent last weekend in Taos, New Mexico with and an imposter. He gets close enough, but perhaps Willis is too self-centered to notice other people inhabit his Universe?

I’m not going to ruin this truncated Willis con. You will understand how absurd it is yourself. And, should anyone bother to dope this heist out, there really isn’t any reason to steal the egg from the museum.

There was a lot of things I liked about OCEAN’S TWELVE. Director Steven Soderbergh has apparently been watching other films rather closely (RUN, LOLA, RUN comes quickly to mind). I enjoyed Soderbergh’s fast-paced direction of the guys. In a hotel room, they talk over each other, make comments, and behave like cabin-fever detainees, not spoiled actors entertaining themselves. There are some truly funny scenes and beautiful photography that doesn’t scream ‘I’m here and you’re not!’ These guys are simply walking around the streets of European capitals. The OCEAN’S TWELVE heist might collapse under casual scrutiny, but the characters are nicely set in movie marble and it’s a pleasure to revisit them. Too bad most of them got pinched and languished in fake jail while Tess returned to save the wacky heist. I could see an OCEAN’S 3 looming in our horizon, but this time why not pare down the cast and pull a stylish, but believable, heist?

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