RogerBW's Blog

Ocean's Twelve 06 March 2019

2004 caper film, dir. Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney, Brad Pitt; IMDb / allmovie. The crooks' victim from the first film wants his money back, and he's a Scary Guy. How to get it for him? Steal it, of course.

The entire plot therefore rests on Mr Benedict (Andrew Garcia) being a force of nature so unstoppable that there's no possible way to put him off from his revenge except to pay him, and it might have been a good idea to spend some time establishing that. Instead, the opening act frankly drags, with a bare minimum of menace, and time wasted on a job that's clearly too small to make any dent in the amount of funds needed – it's necessary for the plot to work, but the characters aren't supposed to know that.

Another distraction is an attempt to borrow ideas from The Thomas Crown Affair and Entrapment, as Pitt's character flirts with a Europol investigator (Catherine Zeta-Jones, not doing as good a job as Rene Russo) who's out to catch him. It's a complication that eats time but doesn't add tension.

The nominal twelfth is Tess (Julia Roberts), hauled in as an emergency stand-in when everything goes wrong (Or Does It?), most of whose contribution is to play Julia Roberts because the plan needs a celebrity. This is not helped by a cameo from Bruce Willis, also playing himself; I think this may be the joint low point of their careers. Maybe Roberts had a larger part that was cut down when she got pregnant. Vincent Cassel, as the hidden opposition, does a game job with a poor script, in the sort of role that these days would be given automatically to Benedict Cumberbatch.

The world expands: the first film took place essentially in Las Vegas, while this one happens in Amsterdam and Rome. It's admitted that there are actually other cool criminals, with cool criminal terms for obscure things that won't be explained, rather than these people being the only thieves in the world. That sense of reality is only slightly dented by an incident of magical "holography" that punts the story into fantasyland.

But the real problem is… well, I expect some trickery from a heist film. A big part of the genre is about confounding the audience's expectations. But when the last-minute solution is "oh, really I did it ten days ago and didn't tell you", meaning that most of the previous hour was nothing but misdirection, well, I get annoyed. The film works, nearly any film intended for entertainment works, by asking the audience to become complicit in its fiction, to agree that while we know it's just a story we will treat its characters as people and its events as if they were real, and we'll allow ourselves to assign some emotional weight for them. To accept that bargain, then to turn round and say "ha ha, aren't you silly for caring about this obvious fiction" is a trick it's hard to forgive.

Cinematography is still by Peter Andrews, but he's learned a new gimmick, a zoom in that ends with a palpable thud as the lens hits its end stop; it's distracting, and when overused (especially multiple times in succession) rapidly becomes annoying.

This film makes the first one look rather better. Sure, it was just meant to be disposable entertainment, but it was disposable entertainment done reasonably well, which this… isn't. It's not completely unwatchable, but I found it much less enjoyable than the first. Followed by Ocean's Thirteen.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1