Ocean’s Twelve (2004)

That Danny Ocean (George Clooney). He’s smart enough to fool a ruthless casino owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), but he cannot hide from him too long. So the gang is back, and with Terry on their tail, they have no choice but to get back to stealing expensive things in elaborate ways. The entire cast of Ocean’s Eleven is back (with a few new faces, and a couple of cameos) for another round of sassy, stylish heists. Check it out.

The first remake of this 60s Rat Pack classic (you know, the one older people remember, with Sammy David Jr, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra) was a pretty cool film. It came out of nowhere in 2001, a year that had its fill of capers – The Score, Heist come to mind. So when this star-studded remake, headlined by Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Julia Roberts came to theaters at the end of the year, people were skeptic. Surprisingly, the movie did well, despite being largely style over substance. A great soundtrack, an amazing cast that kept on adding the punchlines, and a decent plot that kept moving at a fast pace.

The movie didn’t just do well – it became a blockbuster hit, which of course set stage for a sequel. Many have dreaded it – even with Steven Soderberg directing, it could be a stinker. The sequel was pushed a few times, and finally, a few weeks ago it opened. You know what – it’s a pretty good movie. Not as good as the original – you can’t really hope to make any sequel original – but not offensive or god forbid, boring. More of the same, more great in-jokes, more locales and once again, a great soundtrack.

Do you really need a plot? Well, here it is: Terry Benedict manages to find the team who stole his $165 million from the casino vault, and he wants the money back – plus interest. Sure, the casino was insured, and Terry already got covered, but the movie is not about getting even – it’s about the chase, and everyone knows this. The guys quickly decide that the only way to get Terry off their backs is to steal $165 (plus interest) million worth of valuables. Since they cannot operate in US, they move operations to Europe. Cue the obligatory locales (no Eiffel tower, or other done-to-death tourist attractions), the Interpol’s re-surfaced investigations, old flames abandoned in the past, and of course, the mark.

Or, rather, multiple marks. The team manages to set up a few heists, and that’s when things get interesting. I won’t say any more, since it’s going to spoil the fun. None of the plot is really surprising, and the twists are not there to amuse us. They only propel the adventure further for the cast. I think a lot of the movie was for the amusement of the cast – which can be seen as a good thing or bad. I would like to see these people hang out and just talk – within their characters – and the movie does plenty of that. It’s not the “why did this happen”, but rather “how is this going to happen”.

A lot of familiar territory is already there. Linus (Matt Damon) is still trying to get a bigger role in every heist, to be more involved. Reuben (Elliott Gould) utters one-liners and puffs his cigar with infinite confidence – which in itself is a show-stopper. The Malloy brothers (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan) still have pointless and groundless arguments, and Yen (Shaobo Qin) hardly says a word in English, and yet everyone understands and replies without any pause. Sure, these in-jokes are all from the first movie, but if they were hilarious then, why change that? The characters feel familiar and grounded because they didn’t change much – same writing style, they even kept the same manner of dressing up. That’s continuity.

Soderberg even manages to stick in a few blunt cameos, and make them work – we want these people to be in that scene at that time – it’s an acceptable turn of events, and makes the whole thing even more fun. Even Bruiser is back for a few seconds – and it doesn’t matter that the last time we saw him he was in Las Vegas. We welcome him in the scene, and laugh along at the improbability of it. Speaking of improbability – some things may not make sense in this movie, but that’s not the point. The cast is in on the details, and the audience doesn’t have to be – they can come along for the ride. The fun is in the chase – the millions have no meaning, and lives are never in danger.

Whether the twists will amuse you or not, I’m certain the attitude and the tone will constantly be refreshing and cool. So sit back and watch the caper unroll, enjoy the funky soundtrack, and see if you can catch what Linus is talking about when he’s “tested” by Rusty and Danny. Among other Easter eggs that are all over this movie.

Enjoy the coolness.

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