So I watched Ocean’s Twelve…
I once had someone explain the aspects of drug addiction to me and why it was so hard to quit. They explained that the reason (or at least one of the reasons) people continue using drugs despite the adverse effects is that they’re always chasing that “first high” – that first time you experience something new and it blows your mind. Problem is that you can never really get that feeling again and I think that’s the problem with the Ocean’s Trilogy and, in fact, most sequels.
Okay, basic plot: Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) finds the member’s of Ocean’s Eleven – the crew who robbed three of his casinos and stole over 150 million dollars from him. Benedict wants his money back and gives Ocean and his men two weeks to pay it back, with interest! Unable to work in The United States anymore, the crew decides to go international and travel to Amsterdam to try to find a job big enough to settle their debt. Along the way they encounter a master thief known only as ‘The Nightfox’ who offers to settle their debt with Benedict if Ocean’s Eleven can defeat him in a challenge to prove who is the best thief of all.
I actually have to commend the filmmakers of this movie for trying to do something different. Ocean’s Eleven was all about showing the skill and intelligence of the crew in planning an elaborate and cunning heist. Ocean’s Twelve, I believe, was meant to show that the crew could not only plan but also think on their feet. Benedict has them trapped, they have very few resources and they need to engineer an escape plan from almost nothing. The sequel also felt very natural. A lot of sequels feel like they were created purely as cashgrabs and, while I’m not saying this movie isn’t a cashgrab, it feels like a very logical next step in the story. The premise of this movie is excellent but the execution is where it fails.
The thing that made Ocean’s Eleven such a hit was how slick and polished it was. It was a smooth journey from start to finish but Ocean’s Twelve feels disjointed and lacking a vinyl finish. This movie is so concerned with trying to prove how clever the characters are and trying to fool the audience that it forgets to present a congruent story. Elements of the story feel rushed, some are completely glossed over and others completely absent. The movie tries to replicate that formula of fooling the audience into thinking everything is going wrong when it’s actually all part of an elaborate plan but it doesn’t establish this formula the way it did in the first movie. In the first movie we see snippets of the final master plan throughout the course of the movie and then the ending ties everything together. In this movie, we see everything going one way then at the end it feels like the writers couldn’t think of a legitimate way to tie everything together and save our heroes so they just invented a ludicrous plan and tried to shove it down our throats.
Ocean’s Eleven and Twelve remind me a lot of the first and second seasons of Prison Break. The first season was all about being amazed and thrilled by the genius of Scoffield and how meticulously he had planned almost every aspect of the escape. The second season was supposed to be about showing us Scoffield’s ability to apply his genius to different scenarios for success but instead tried to make us believe that everything was still apart of the plan and everything had been foreseen. You can’t do that. You can control everything in a small space like a prison or a bank vault but when you step out into the world, there are too many variables for you to have a plan for every one. That’s my main problem with this movie, it tries to make us believe that the characters can somehow account for all these variables and it’s really unnecessary. We know these guys are smart, we saw that in the first movie, making them gods (as this movie tries to do) just takes away from all the good that the first movie set up.
But one good thing this movie manages to do is keep the spirit and fun that the cast had in the first movie alive. There’s a great scene in the beginning where the gang is arguing about them being named “Ocean’s Eleven” because it makes them sound like Danny’s backup singers. There’s moments like this all over the movie and it’s really fun to see because you can tell that the actors behind these characters are looking to have a good time and willing to let their hair down and partake in a little silliness. I think the standout performance for me in this movie is that of Matt Damon as Linus. As you may remember from the first movie, Linus’ father and mother are both highly successful criminals and Linus is trying to break out on his own and achieve his own success. This makes him super eager to impress and a perfect target for Danny (George Clooney) and Rusty’s (Brad Pitt) abuse and mockery.
Overall, this movie feels like a watered-down version of the original. It isn’t as slick or well-polished and doesn’t utilize its all-star cast as effectively as the original. It’s not horrible but it isn’t really very good either. Give it a miss 6/10