Ocean's Twelve Review
So, when we left our merry band of robbers at the end of Ocean’s Eleven, they’d just successfully robbed the Bellagio Casino of $160 million. Well, casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) was naturally annoyed by this, and is now setting out to get the gang to repay every cent they owe him, plus interest. That’s how Ocean’s Twelve sets up a return to action for Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his hand-picked team of criminally-inclined pals: the gang needs to re-form pronto and think of a way they can raise the 'owed' money within 14 days. Not such an easy task, as you might imagine. And to underscore how serious he is about the matter, Benedict visits every member of the original gang to threaten them individually... an early section of the film which - although handy for reminding us of the original crew - does seem to drag on a bit by the time we reach the final members. Those included, less we forget the stellar cast, are: Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle), Frank Catton (Bernie Mac), Turk Malloy (Scott Caan), Virgil Malloy (Casey Affleck), Livingston Dell (Edward Jemison), Yen (Shaobo Qin), Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner), Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) and of course Danny Ocean, via his wife Tess (Julia Roberts).
Once the gang are back together again, Europe is suggested as a place to stage their next heist as the Bellagio job has made them rather notorious in the US. It’s this notoriety that actually provides the actual backbone to the film. As it turns out in the wake of their first (failed) robbery set-up, Benedict was able to track them all down thanks to a tip-off from a cocky French thief known as the Night Fox (Vincent Cassel). The real plot becomes a test amongst thieves between Ocean’s gang and the Night Fox, the ultimate goal being the theft of a Fabergé egg about to arrive for a museum exhibit. But of course no caper movie would be much without the obligatory cop hot on their trail... and in this case it’s Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a Eurocop and ex-flame of one of the lads: Rusty.
The race to see which thief is best is vastly more interesting than the original set-up of the gang simply stealing enough to pay Benedict back (especially considering that the casino's insurance covered all of his actual losses already). Alas this film still falls short of Ocean’s Eleven in terms of pacing, plot and writing. Whilst still a very watchable film - albeit a trifle on the lengthy side - the pacing problem in particular does make certain segments drag unnecessarily, and seems to stem naturally from the multiple plot strands and the numerous characters that must be followed.
Fortunately the acting is really superb throughout, as you might expect from a quick glance down the cast list. Don Cheadle’s accent is admittedly awful, but hey, he gave it a shot and the rest of the cast members are pretty flawless in their roles. Julia Roberts and Matt Damon especially display a great intuition for comic timing, and Brad Pitt and George Clooney still seem to relish their roles in these films, particularly the wry sense of humour that’s involved. Catherine Zeta-Jones is a welcome addition to the star list and fits in well, given the fact she’s playing cop to the rest of the cast’s robbers.
Ocean’s Twelve is a heist film. The central premise and plotting are, of course, a bit silly, and it’s all more involved and less tightly-scripted than Ocean’s Eleven. That being said, it’s remains an enjoyable afternoon’s viewing with great performances and intriguing (if occasionally patchy) direction from Soderbergh.
The film is presented in its original ratio of 2.35:1 and the interesting thing about the picture quality of this transfer is that the style of the film and the director’s preferences clearly played a large role. There’s a great deal of variation in the specific video qualities being employed; some scenes are incredibly sharp and the colours very rich and true, while others look a bit flat, as if aiming for a vintage feel – all depending on what Soderbergh is trying to achieve in his direction. There’s a fair amount of grain throughout, however no scratch or dust marks evident in the print. So most of the areas that picture quality is marked down for in this film devolve into more of a stylistic choice, as whenever the production crew wanted to get a perfect image, they were able to.
The style of the film is also less 'Hollywood glossy' than its predecessor; for this outing, everything’s gone European, and the nod this time is more to European caper movies, such as The Italian Job and even the Pink Panther films in certain parts. For that reason, the picture at times attempts to recreate that style and we’re left with an eclectic mix of clarity, tone and filters throughout the film.
The DD 5.1 track is a little disappointing (I didn’t get a chance to really compare it with the DD 2.0 one). The soundtrack remains uninspiring but adequate and there are no problems with dialogue being masked by music, but the subwoofer and rear speakers don’t get the kind of audio workout you’d perhaps expect from a fairly high-action heist movie.
Menus & Extras
The menus are very crisp and appealing, using lots of fluid animation, clips of speech from the film and many, many stills to keep you fully occupied while you decide which option to pick. Very professionally executed and with fast access times to boot.
But that’s about all there is to say in this section. A high-profile film like this, and the only extra that's included is the trailer. OK, so it’s a pretty good trailer, but still. I suppose some might also count the trio of forced trailers at the start of the disc for The Aviator, The Phantom of the Opera and Million Dollar Baby, but that being said, it’s a disappointment to head to the ‘special features’ menu.
Ocean’s Twelve is unlikely to win any awards for plot or writing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun film and worth a watch. The cast are great and in fine form, obviously enjoying working together again – this time with the added bonus of the film being set in Europe. The premise for the sequel is adequate and cranks up a notch when the Night Fox gets involved, but there’s nothing deep and meaningful here; it's just what it says on the tin... a reasonably fun heist film. It’s a bit of a shame that a better selection of extra features weren't made available on this DVD, but at least the menus are well-composed and interesting to watch – and the quality of sound and picture are in line with what you'd expect for a recent Hollywood release.