A Film Review Review By Jason L. King
|Rating:Rated PG-13 for language.
Starring:George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and more.
Directed By:Steven Soderbergh
This weekend marks yet another milestone in the world of sequels. Steven Soderbergh returns once again with his full cast of the 2001 heist hit Ocean’s 11 (a remake of a 1960’s Rat Pack Flick) to bring us the newest saga of Danny Ocean and his crew of master thieves in Ocean’s 12. Soderbergh brought back the cast fairly cheaply and made the film on pretty much the same budget as what he did the first one for. But with the first one being a cult success, the big question on everyone’s minds is what is left for Danny Ocean and his crew, and can a sequel actually live up to expectation?
Ocean’s 12 picks up after Ocean’s 11 left off. Danny Ocean is retired happily with the love of his life, Tess, and his crew has disassembled across the globe, and thoroughly enjoying the riches they acquired from casino mogul, Terry Benedict, during the 2001 casino heist. But as we soon are reminded, Benedict (Andy Garcia) is a ruthless man who holds a huge grudge. Determined to get his money back (which was already federally insured) with interest, Benedict seeks out each member of Ocean’s 11 one by one and tells them they have 2 weeks to return their share of the money to him. Unsure of how to handle the situation, Danny and his crew reassemble to try to plan a heist in 2 weeks that will settle the score with Benedict once and for all.
The idea of Ocean’s 12 has the potential to work very well. We already know the ruthless nature of Benedict from the first film, so we really find it as no surprise to find him seeking out his money even though he has long since already cut his losses over the heist. The idea of Ocean’s crew having to travel abroad to pull of a million-dollar heist has the potential to work as well. Add that in with the entire crew willing to return and you have a film that could be huge box office bank as well as a great sequel. The problem is they fell victim to a few flaws that really took away from the end product. Like most sequels they felt the need to tell more back-story and try to give certain characters more depth. There is a whole sub plot telling us of the story of Rusty (Brad Pitt) and how he met and fell in love with sexy detective (Catherine Zeta-Jones) years ago. Of course this does come into play in the film, so its not really pointless information, but it could have been information that could have been easily left out.
This flick is the perfect example of a film where the chemistry is there, but the film doesn’t back up the actors. Clooney, Pitt, Damon and the gang are all back and it is evident that they work together well and are having a great time doing it. They feed off each other’s energy extremely well and each of their characters gets time to shine and have their own bit of clever wit, which is what made the first film so much fun. But this time the script didn’t work as well. The comedic moments felt awkward quite a bit and moments that could have been really funny just felt too forced to provide the chuckles they intended.
Just like the forced wit, this film also felt like a forced plot as well. It stammered and stumbled about and never really chose one direction to focus on. In the first film you knew the end goal, you knew pretty much how they got to it (and what they didn’t show you initially, they cleared up clearly and concisely in the last few minutes). Ocean’s 12 had more twists and turns than the first Mission Impossible film and while it makes more sense than Donnie Darko ever will, it leaves you a bit confused and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Add that in with more “endings” that Lord of The Rings: Return of the King, and you have a film that was just trying way too hard to trump the first one, and failed in the process. At least 3 or four times I thought the film was over, and by the time it was over, I wanted it to end about 6 scenes ago.
What Ocean’s 12 did do well is provide us with a few new colorful characters, including Vincent Cassel who does a great job as an arch rival master thief, and of course the addition of Catherine-Zeta Jones to the already star studded cast. While each of their roles is small, they are both fun, especially Cassel’s “dance” sequence near the end of the film. I would tell you more because after all it is not my nature to be mysterious, but I can’t talk about it, and I can’t talk about why. Also as an added bonus once again, Soderbergh makes sure that Brad Pitt’s character, Rusty is eating in nearly every scene once again. If you’ve never noticed this check it out in the first one and you’ll get a great laugh.
In the end, Ocean’s 12 was a mediocre film with high expectations. In the process of trying to trump the original Soderbergh and friends lost direction of the true spirit of what made the first film such a success. I’ve always held Ocean’s 11 in high regard. In fact, Ocean’s 11 was the very first review I ever wrote for what eventually became Box Office Boredom. To save you from reading what is the shortest and worst review ever (but does exist in our archives) I gave the first film a B+. Unfortunately for Danny Ocean and friends this time their film was far too misguided to get a review much more than average.