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.