Eye For Film >> Movies >> Ocean's 12 (2004) Film Review
Reviewed by: Josh Morrall
Twelve is the new 11 and mediocre is the new good.
Ocean's 12 has a lot to live up to and, in many ways, delivers what it promised, but its emphatic lack of respect for its audience and the moments in the plot where it becomes too cool for its own good let down what could have been a well executed sequel.
The plot is relatively simple: Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) bring together the original 11 to pull off three European heists to pay back their enormous debt to Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). Despite this basic premise, the direction of Steven Soderbergh and the wall of distraction that is the relationship between cast members complicate matters in attempting to deliver a clever and stylish film.
Soderbergh is a refreshing director, like Gus Van Sant, not afraid to try out new methods of camerawork - he is one of the few directors working in cinema not terrified of the zoom function. To communicate the more intense and pressing atmosphere of the European cities, he implements a gritty, guerrilla filmmaking style, contrasting the calibre and sheer expense of the cast involved. This is successful, despite the risk that it could have ended up as ugly as Full Frontal.
Ocean's 12 knows that it's slick and does everything to bring this point home. Cool cast. Cool soundtrack. Cool. Despite this, the film remains, unfortunately, exactly what it tries to be: cool.
There are, however, some very questionable moments. For example, the Julia Roberts twist, and I'm trying not to give anything away here, raised a chorus of cackles amongst the crowd in the cinema. It's one of those moments where you stare at the screen transfixed, disbelieving. Soderbergh plays it down to a reasonable extent, but there is still a feeling that the script was redrafted solely to compensate for Roberts's pregnancy.
Clooney and Pitt share the same best friend chemistry they did in the first, born out of their close real life relationship (consisting of jogging together and practical jokes on set). Matt Damon returns to his role as the bumbling amateur, playing against type now, considering his dominating presence as Jason Bourne. Everyone fills their role, although not in the same way as they did before. The film has been criticised for not really using its enormous cast, which it did so successfully the first time, but this is missing the point entirely. Whilst everything went right in Ocean's Eleven, very little goes right in Ocean's 12: botched heists are aplenty, and there are fleeting moments when it seems possible that everyone will end up in jail.
Here, we come to the film's other major flaw. Ocean's 12 rarely lets the audience into much of what is going on. Clooney and Pitt have an impermeable circle of trust between them and for most of the film the audience embodies Damon's ignorance. This becomes irritating, especially in the last five minutes when everything is supposed to fall into place, but doesn't, and we are left with a cold feeling of stupidity.
Ocean's 12 is smart and very well made, but alienates most of its audience. Soderbergh does a fine job contrasting the first film, whilst maintaining the quality and originality that makes him a vastly superior director than most, but there are some uncomfortable and questionable moments that prevent it from equalling the standard of its predecessor.Reviewed on: 05 Feb 2005