An Ocean Apart
The first "Ocean's Eleven" was a surprisingly good movie, especially as it was a remake so a sequel was pretty much anticipated. Well "Ocean's Twelve" comes along full of the impressive visuals, star studded cast, humour and action which made the first movie so much fun but this time around it just doesn't feel right. It's not that anything is missing, although not being set in Las Vegas detracts slightly, it's more a case of it's trying to hard to be better, forcing things rather than letting them flow naturally. It means that "Ocean's Twelve" is by no means a bad movie and is packed full of what made "Ocean's Eleven" such a good movie, just in comparison to the first one it feels weak.
Three years after Danny Ocean (George Clooney - The Perfect Storm) and his gang of criminals robbed three Las Vegas casinos in one night he is forced to put the gang back together when Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia - Desperate Measures) tracks them all down and threatens them with death unless they pay back all the money with interest. With no choice but to try and steal enough money to pay him back, the gang head off to Europe in search of jobs, but with Europol agent Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta Jones - The Terminal) and the legendary thief Francois Toulour (Vincent Cassel) in their way, getting the money is not going to be easy.
It has to be said that sequels are notoriously hard to make often ending in just being a rehash of the original but thankfully "Ocean's Twelve" doesn't do this. Instead it sort of carries on the story from the original with the gang now forced to stage another heist to pay back the money they stole from Terry Benedict. It's in many ways a clever idea, allowing the story to progress whilst also delivering the essence of the original with another outrageous robbery. Thankfully with the change of situations and locations it doesn't just feel like just another heist movie or a rehash of the first, with some of the lesser characters in the first movie coming to the fore this time around as well as a few new ones.
The same can be said of director Soderbergh's styling, choosing to use a lot of the same techniques employed in the first movie but bringing something new to stop it feeling too samey. With different snappy edits, camera angles and capitalizing on the different light away from the glitz of Las Vegas "Ocean's Twelve" has a definite different feel to the movie whilst keeping it just familiar enough to follow on.
Plus of course there is the humour, the in jokes and self depreciating humour between the gang. It's very much in the same manner of the "Ocean's Eleven" the sort of thing which will make you smile even laugh to yourself but not in a continual onslaught of one gag after another. Some of the best bits are the self depreciating humour such as when Danny's age is questioned with him looking wounded when looking 50 is mentioned.
Then of course the cast full of returning faces such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Cassey Affleck all working in harmony as in the first movie, delivering that camaraderie which made the first movie so entertaining. Again Julia Roberts returns and whilst for the most she is just a supporting actress she does get her moment in the limelight which sees a wonderful self depreciating cameo from Bruce Willis in some of the movies funniest scenes.
But it is the new faces which help to make "Ocean's 12" more interesting than just a sequel, with funny supporting performances from Eddie izzard and Robbie Coltrane. But the more impressive performances come from Catherine Zeta Jones a slightly mysterious Europol agent Isabel Lahiri who's on the gangs' case and also the wonderful, suave Vincent Cassel as rival criminal Francois Toulour whose scenes with George Clooney are brilliant to watch, oozing with charisma and confidence.
But as already mentioned it feels like they're just trying a little too hard to improve on the original and in doing so actually made a slightly worse movie. The jokes are sometimes a little too long or out of place, thrown in at the strangest of times. The flashy camera work and snappy edits start to grate, spoiling the flow of the action. And whilst the change of location and reasons for doing the robbery give the storyline a new direction, the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas is definitely missed. Near enough everything including the performances has that slight feeling of forced and it spoils "Ocean's Twelve".
What this all boils down to is that "Ocean's Twelve" is a good movie, entertaining for all the right reasons but then because it has that feeling of trying to outdo what went before it lacks that natural flow which made the first movie so good. It's by no means a terrible movie, and with its new locations and different storyline is a good follow up, it's just that it all feels a little too forced and it really didn't need to try so hard.