Reviewed by: Brett Willis
|Featuring:||Brad Pitt (Rusty Ryan), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Isabel Lahiri), George Clooney (Danny Ocean), Julia Roberts (Tess Ocean), Andy Garcia (Terry Benedict), Casey Affleck (Virgil Malloy), Bernie Mac (Frank Catton), Don Cheadle (Basher Tarr), Matt Damon (Linus Caldwell), Carl Reiner (Saul Bloom), Bruce Willis (Bruce Willis—uncredited), more »|
|Producer:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Jerry Weintraub Productions, more »|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“Twelve is the new eleven.”
A sequel to a remake. Need I say more? If you’re looking for formula writing, escapism and self-parody, “Ocean’s Twelve” has plenty. If you’re looking for originality, don’t bother.
“Ocean’s Eleven” (the 2001 remake) was similar to films like “The Sting.” There were a lot of plot twists, nothing was as it seemed, and almost everyone in the cast was a “bad guy.” And by glamorizing a high-stakes heist, and by tricks of character development or lack thereof, the film virtually forced the viewer to root for the “bad guys.” That of course is an anti-Christian position to take, and for that reason alone the film was dangerous to the impressionable minority who can’t remember that it’s only a movie.
“Ocean’s Twelve” is similar in this regard, yet different. The violence is ratcheted back a notch; there’s no glitzy Las Vegas sensuality; and the thievery takes on a surreal atmosphere, since it’s literally presented as a game: a contest between master thieves, to see who’s the best. For most people, it will be a lighter, more enjoyable outing than the original. But for the minority who can’t distinguish between drama and real life, it could be even more damaging.
A couple of years after Daniel Ocean (George Clooney) and his gang robbed casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) of $160 million, Benedict has finally learned the identities of all involved. He gives them a couple of weeks to pay the money back, with interest, or be killed. Of course, they’ve already spent a lot of it, so they’re about $100 million short of the needed total. The only way to met Benedict’s demand is to pull another job. And since they’re too hot in the States, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) suggests they do something in Europe. However, he has a hidden agenda behind that suggestion. Before the gang ever did the casino job, Ryan was “involved with” Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones). She’s a cop, of all things, and he had to leave her in bed (literally) when he learned that she was about to unmask him as the perpetrator of a crime. Apparently, despite all the risks, Ryan wants to see her again. So he’s putting his buddies at risk with his personal involvement, similar to what Ocean did in the casino heist.
There’s implied sex, some mild kissing, and several women (including some prisoners) in somewhat-revealing outfits, but no outright sleaziness.
The violence is quite tame. Arrests, chases, threatenings and posturings. A car bomb is detonated while the car is unoccupied, as a warning. But nowhere in the film is anyone killed or seriously injured. And although the actors play their parts as straight drama, the atmosphere is comedic, which lightens everything a little.
The language is about the same as in the original. There are ten religious exclamations, one clearly-heard use of f*, and about a dozen miscellaneous offensive terms. In addition to this, there’s a played-for-laughs sequence where Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle) and another person are in a broadcast room, working with software that automatically BLEEPS out obscenities, and we (from outside the soundproof room) see and hear them use forms of f* about fourteen times, but always bleeped out (Tarr is complaining about and cursing the “censorship” software itself). In another sequence, Ocean’s gang is preparing to rob a man with Agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), whom some of the gang refer to as a “freak,” and Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) objects to their insensitive terminology and even attempts to raise the issue that it might be morally wrong to steal from a handicapped person. But in the end, they all go ahead with the job anyway. It was unclear whether that sequence, including Linus’ objections, was meant to be played for laughs, or was meant to be the film’s most thought-provoking moment, or both.
There are several cameos by movie stars, including at least one who plays himself. Also, I’d wondered why Julia Roberts is made up to look so dowdy, in contrast to her appearance in the original. Well, there’s a reason, but I won’t give it away.
Several of the original “eleven,” including the getaway car drivers and the acrobat, have very little to do in this film. They’re more or less just along for the ride, because their characters are expected to be included. A nice paycheck for the actors, but a drag on the film.
The scenery of exotic European locales is impressive. The acting is uniformly good, even though the plot is ridiculous and full or holes. But the film is just plain missing something. A number of people with me in the Opening Night audience got up making comments like “That was BAD.” I’m not a particular fan of caper films, and, even if I were, I think I’d be disappointed in this one.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.