The gang is back (plus one) in ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ |

The gang is back (plus one) in ‘Ocean’s Twelve’

Howie Nave
From left, Danny Ocean (George Clooney), Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) team up for another three huge heists in "Ocean's Twelve," but this time they're in three different locations: Rome, Paris and Amsterdam.

George Clooney and the gang have returned for another round of fun. And why not? 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” brought in millions at the box office and boasted one of the biggest names in the industry who just happened to be the best of friends. That’s why director Steven Soderbergh was able to get that picture made. With a cast that included Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia, to name a few, just their salaries alone would have made the movie cost-prohibitive. They took a lesser cut on the front end and enjoyed the points on the back end so everyone was happy.

With the success of that film Soderbergh expressed interest in doing a sequel if Clooney could convince the same cast to return. They did, and with “Ocean’s Twelve” opening today, we get not just a continuation of where the first one left off, but a story that branches out in many directions.

The story reminds us that Terry Benedict (Garcia) was robbed of $160 million from his Las Vegas casino at the conclusion of the first film and now is seeking revenge of the harshest kind unless all of his loot is returned with interest. Who was the mole? Who double-crossed who here and how can one raise that kind of capital? Rob again, of course. One job alone won’t do it, so this time out we’re treated to three new heists that take place in Rome, Paris and Amsterdam.

“Ocean’s Twelve” could have been rather boring had it not been for the writing of George Clayton Johnson and George Nolfi (based on the original 1960 movie by Jack Golden Russell). There are a few continuity “problems,” but not enough to detract from the overall coolness of this movie. There are a few new surprises, including when 12th “Ocean” member Catherine Zeta Jones is introduced both as an agent and Rusty’s ex-girlfriend, which added an interesting layer here.

In the first movie, Tess (Roberts) was Danny Ocean’s ex-wife, and Terry Benedict’s love interest, and Rusty (Pitt) felt Tess was the sole purpose for Danny Ocean’s motive in the first place. She was. Now her part in “Twelve” plays an even more pivotal role to keep Terry at bay.

Meanwhile, Isabel Lahiri (Jones) is tracking the gang in their quest to find enough payola to get Benedict off their backs before he kills them. They have two weeks. That’s what I liked about this sequel. The tables were turned. The first film, everything was planned methodically and executed perfectly. This time, they are the scared ones fearing execution. The story isn’t predictable like many sequels are. It veers off in ways that will leave you wondering how they can wrap things up. The addition of Vincent Cassel is a hint, though.

Without spoiling anything, I will say that the objects they plan to “lift” will probably make several museum curators take note. After watching this, I really think that no place is safe from a well planned theft. No place at all for those so driven to want to steal something of unlimited value.

As in the first film, there are plenty of cameos. This time Bruce Willis makes a pretty humorous entrance. He is one of many here, so pay close attention.

“Ocean’s Twelve” still retains the dry humor of the first one and even supercedes it. The comedy and drama are well balanced with a story that never lets up until the very end – which is a surprise ending, I must say. In fact, could there be an “Ocean’s Thirteen” here? Soderbergh and company may offer us yet another. I wasn’t expecting this one to be as good as the first one but it lived up to its billing, so who knows?

– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv Comedy Club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada. He hosts his own daily show afternoons on Tahoe’s KRLT radio.

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