Looking Back At OCEAN'S TWELVE - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Looking Back At OCEAN'S TWELVE

Over fifteen years has passed since Ocean's Twelve, probably the least well received installment of the trilogy, was released. Time, though, has been kind to it and I find myself enjoying it a lot more on rewatch than original viewing. That's not to say its perfect though as the casino based plot of the first film really gave a sense of glamour which is never really replicated here in the sequel. The realism of shooting in actual casinos, the crowded intimacy, the depiction of the offline gamers and their habits, all really helped ground the elaborate and sensational aspects of the plot. Here, in Ocean's Twelve, perhaps the rise in popularity of online casino games took the action to a different location. Not only in setting but in operation too. Whereas Ocean's Eleven's heist was an elaborate, critical operation, the museum heist here is more of an intricate game, a jigsaw (even in its logic) and practically a charade with the cunning and elusive Night Fox. Plus there is significantly less attention devoted to the actual heist than its perplexing, yet engaging, design.

Reuniting Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his previously assembled gang of peculiar thieves, Ocean's Twelve sees their ruthless victim Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) uncover their previous doings and, somehow, all of their identities. After the events of the first film in the trilogy, Benedict quite naturally has a grudge against the thieves and delivers an urgent threat: pay up or ship out.

Thus ensues yet another ingenious scheme by Ocean's Eleven. This time around, as the title suggests, a "twelfth member" is added to the team, Danny's wife Tess Ocean (played by a very pregnant Julia Roberts) plays a somewhat dominant (and amusing) role in the plot, which is to basically rob a prized "golden egg" from a European museum. Once again, this is a seemingly infeasible task which can only be perpetrated by the most cunning, collected, suave, and industrial of minds... We know a gang who has proved itself to be all of that and more.

As well as Tess having a more involved role, there's also a romantic interest for Rusty (Brad Pitt) with the luscious, yet officious Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and a new nemesis known as the Night Fox. There is certainly more star power in this film but with a less engineered and more liberated plot structure than its predecessor, hence Ocean's Twelve is not quite as sensational and rewarding, lacking much of the energy and originality, as well as in the character structure where the original triumphed.

Although a few of Ocean's Eleven play a more central role in the action e.g. Linus (Matt Damon), many of the characters are merely around for show and hardly serve a purpose in the actual heist. And speaking of the heist, the details to the surprise ending couldn't be detected by the keenest of observers, at least until the end that is, which I have to say that on first viewing left me feeling it was a baffling and illogical excuse for a resolution.

All of this may sound negative, and yes Ocean's Twelve does not quite meet the level of its predecessor, but over fifteen years since my one and only previous viewing, I was more impressed by what I felt was an exceedingly clever plot structure, and that "baffling and illogical" ending actually marvelously pieces together every invisible detail of the heist as an explanation to how the gang outfoxed the Night Fox.

Featuring the usual industrial, meticulous, and prudent direction of Steven Soderberg, some fine and jovial acting from all of the leads, adept and subtle plot structure, and a very awesome and stimulating score, Ocean's Twelve, while not quite equaling its excellent predecessor, is definitely a solid piece of high octane, feel-good, debonair entertainment. As I said at the start, time has been kind to it and it's rather more enjoyable on second viewing. All round, it's an enticing, exhilarating crime caper and great escapist fare.

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