Shiny Shelf

Ocean’s Twelve

By Jon de Burgh Miller on 11 December 2004

It is three years since Danny Ocean and associates successfully robbed the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, and after three years, someone with a grudge against Danny Ocean has broken the thieves’ code and told Bellagio owner Terry Benedict where Ocean’s Eleven are living. Benedict sets out to recover his money, or extract revenge on those who humiliated him.

So begins the sequel to the remake of a mediocre film from decades past. It’s not the first time this has been done, but ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ is no ‘Father of the Bride Part II’, in contrast it successfully achieves the goals any sequel aspires to of at least matching its predecessor, and in many places surpassing it.

The story follows the same basic beats as the first film, with the gang arranging a large robbery, but while the plot is more elaborate and detailed, the actual heist is unremarkable and lacks the cleverness and tension of the Bellagio raid.

At times things get a little confusing. During the first film the audience was made to ask questions but never lost track of what was going on – even if what was actually happening was something else entirely – yet ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ is a little more confusing, demanding a couple of viewings for everything to truly make sense. It definitely feels like it needs a little script polish.

There’s plenty of good jokes here and plenty of bad ones, including one ridiculously predictable gag based on a self-awareness that the movie is crammed with celebrities, a gag so cheap that you can barely believe they’ve used it. When it leads to a ten-minute sequence involving an unbilled major guest star, one has to hang one’s head in despair.

All the cast from the first movie are back, and while as before, Pitt, Roberts and Clooney get the bulk of the screen time, the minor players in the Eleven who barely got any screen time last time get pushed to the forefront this time (which seems only fair), while major players from the first like Bernie Mac and Carl Reiner barely appear. Don Cheadle returns with the worst British accent in cinema history, and one has to wonder whether after the lampooning he received for the last film, Soderbergh told him to make it even more implausible and unintelligable.

‘Ocean’s Eleven’ was acclaimed for a stylish and edgy editing style. For the sequel this has been ramped up to new heights, with rapid cuts in the middle of scenes skipping time, unusual angles (even having the camera upside down for one scene) and an edgy pace which gives the film an interesting quality, yet also renders it a little awkward to watch. While clever, the editing style is a little too distracting for anyone to claim it serves the story well.

‘Ocean’s Twelve’ is one of those sequels that seems bigger by having a larger scope than the first, with an expanded cast of characters and numerous ‘exotic’ locations around Europe. As far as the script goes it’s different from the first film and still good, but nowhere near as tight and frequently feels like it’s trying to juggle too many balls in order to give the featured celebrities the screen time their egos demand.

The ‘Ocean’ franchise (as it has undoubtedly become) is definitely an acquired taste, but even the harshest critics can’t deny the sheer sense of fun this sequel oozes. The audience probably doesn’t have quite as much fun as the cast did making it, but they probably come close. It’s nice to see a film that combines not taking itself seriously with trying to make a decent film, regardless of whether they’ve succeeded or not.

If you liked the first one, you’ll definitely like this, but it’s very much more of the same so those critical of the first should probably avoid.

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By Jon de Burgh Miller

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