Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In Defense of Ocean's 12

Ocean's 12 is my favorite entry in the series. Now, it's not in my nature to be mysterious, but I can't talk about it and I can't talk about why.

Ok, that's not true but that's what I love so much about the second Ocean's movie. It's the most funny, the most self aware and reflexive film and the one that is closest to Soderbergh's sensibilities as a filmmaker. While the first film was under the stigma of being a remake and the third movie was for the sake of Warner's summer of 2007, the second movie is truly Soderbergh and the crew having fun, making a movie in Europe. Even though he was working from an original screenplay, Soderbergh's brand of wry humor is all over the movie. Hell, they say Ocean's 11 in the first eight minutes of the movie. From nonsensical ravings with a great Robbie Coltrane, to playing with movie star Bruce Willis as movie star Bruce Willis and a twist you won't believe until they try to pull it off, Ocean's 12 is Soderbergh at his most daring with a huge studio budget. From Connecticut to Rome, Topher Grace to Albert Finney, Ocean's 12 takes the original and turns it on its head.

And it's a better story to boot. Not only does the crew have to pay back Andy Garcia's ever-unflappable Terry Benedict, but they also have a challenging nemesis in billionaire playboy Francois Toulour as the Night Fox. Vincent Cassel plays the villian who wants nothing more than to prove that his skills are superior to Ocean's crew and he has fun with his linguistic, acting and athletic talents even though he ultimately falls short. Furthermore, Catherine Zeta-Jones has a much better role as the female interest than Julia Roberts had in the original as Rusty's femme fatale Interpol agent Isabel Lahiri. Chasing after Rusty for over ten years and fighting her feelings for him, the two of them have great chemistry together and form the emotional core of the story that actually pays off in the end. Not to say that her character overshadows Julia Robert's Tess who plays a large part in the caper that you're either rolling with or it with totally throw you off.

Speaking of playing a larger role in the caper, Matt Damon's really comes out to run with the big boys, taking a hand in planning the job and running the ship when everyone gets pinched. In between a Bourne movie and a Gilliam movie, Damon actually wanted to take a smaller part in the movie, but Soderbergh insisted that the Linus story was integral to the film and refused to write it down. And Damon delivers in spades with a character resolution that not only hits the mark, but pay offs in the third movie as well.

While it may have it's detractors, true films buff should recognize Ocean's 12 for what it really is. The best Soderbergh film in the Ocean's trilogy.

Plus, the movie introduces Eddie Izzard as the tech connect Roman Nagel.


MrJeffery said...

I kind of liked this too? I saw it on a plane so that might affected my mood but I thought it was breezy and fun. Everyone looks great and as if they're having a great time. Loved the Julia Roberts scene and the score was nice too.

schaggydog said...

I really liked this film and I wasn't sure why there was so much backlash with it. It definitely has a European feel in style and structure, which is appropriate for not only this film but Soderbergh as well. I still prefer the first one, but all three are great films.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I agree with you. Best in the set. Ironic that I too reviewed this for the blogathon.

Bob Turnbull said...

I tell ya, it does my heart glad to see others who love Ocean's Twelve. It's always been one of my soapbox films - I think people misunderstand it and see it as a straight heist film. It isn't.

I wrote it up a few months ago as an entry in the "Counting Down The Zeroes" set of posts covering the best films of the decade.

Fletch said...

Funny to see the lovers coming out of the woodwork. I won't go quite that far...

...however, while it's still my least favorite of the series, it's a movie that I've altered my opinion on since first seeing it. I was never a hater, but it didn't really work for me, either, yet thanks to HBO and multiple viewings, I've come to like it quite a bit and I, too, find myself standing up for it.

I dig the music a lot; the first's soundtrack is already top-notch, but his one's a bit edgier, and though the Entrapment rip-off (which I'm sure ripped something else off) is still extravagant and extraneous, I love what it's set to.

Possibly the best thing about 12 is that, unlike the other two that play as relatively straightforward revenge flicks, this one has a good backstory to it.

All that said, I still hate the Roberts twist, and Willis' extended cameo comes off poorly as well. Not coincidentally, I think that had they excised those two bits, most people wouldn't have been so harsh on this one.

Oh yeah, almost forgot: I freaking love the scene with Coltrane, Clooney, Pitt and Damon with all the code-talking. Still have no idea what it all means, but it's probably the funniest moment of the troika.

Big Mike Mendez said...

That's the old Lost in Translation, Fletch.