|George Clooney||Danny Ocean|
|Brad Pitt||Rusty Ryan|
|Matt Damon||Linus Caldwell|
|Catherine Zeta-Jones||Isabel Lahiri|
|Andy Garcia||Terry Benedict|
|Directed by||Steven Soderbergh|
There is a scene in Steven Soderbergh's sequel to his remake of the 1960 Rat Pack caper movie "Ocean's Eleven" in which earnest young Linus (Matt Damon) voices qualms about breaking into the mansion of a wealthy agoraphobic millionaire : "Am I the only one who feels funny about stealing from a handicapped guy?" This is the kind of seriousness that has no place in a cool gang of thieves like this one, and it also represents the kind of seriousness that a viewer should not bring to a cool movie like this one. Plot ? Logic ? Intelligibility ? Consistency ? Get a life !
If you're looking for something that makes sense, you've wandered into the wrong room at the multiplex. Linus gets another emblematic scene when he tags along with the big boys to a meeting with Matsui (Robbie Coltrane), an Amsterdam underworld contact. The dialogue is conducted in nonsensical aphorisms ("If animals along the equator were capable of flattery?.") whose only meaning is to show Linus he's out of his depth, which of course he is. And if we try to understand what's going on, we're making the same mistake. So here's what's going on. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Tess (Julia Roberts) and the gang are in retirement, living happily off the millions they stole from the Bellaggio in Las Vegas a few years ago, when who should show up but the villainous, putter-wielding Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), owner of the victimized casino and former owner of the millions. He's found out who dunnit, and he wants his money back, with interest. That comes to about $197 million. And he wants it in a couple of weeks. Or he'll kill them all.
Well, what's a retired crook to do ? Putting aside the obvious solution, that for a lot less than $197 million it would be a simple matter to contract a preemptive hit on Benedict, the answer is to swing back into action and steal enough to cover the nut. Of course, that's a tall order, and with the dollar currently in the doldrums, it's more efficient to move the base of operations across the Atlantic to take advantage of the surging Euro. Besides, the Europeans have all those photogenic locations.
They also have Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the drop-dead gorgeous top investigator for Europol, a woman with a jones for busting top international thieves. She also has a background to rival the rap sheet of Bernie Kerik, the disgraced nominee for Homeland Security chief. She's had a sizzling affair with international thief Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), and her father was also a legendary international thief. But Europe poses a few additional challenges, too. The stickiest one is the Night Fox (Vincent Cassel), an international thief with self-esteem issues who is determined to prove that he's the best international thief in the business. He sets out to outsmart Ocean and his minions at every turn, and for a while it looks as if he's going to succeed. But you would have to be awfully new to this kind of movie to doubt that the twelve will prevail in the end. As Benedict puts it, "Guys like Ocean, they keep coming back," a sentiment that we can assume has special meaning to Soderbergh and Warner Brothers.
The script, by George Nolfi, jumps all over the place in location, time, and continuity. It was apparently originally written to be a John Woo picture, and was then adapted to the needs of Ocean's bunch when they decided to do a sequel. There are some entertaining scenes, but they tend to be set pieces, enjoyable on their own but not really a part of a larger whole. There are a few cameos, including an ersatz celebrity sighting involving Julia Roberts as played by Tess as played by Julia Roberts. There are some good supporting bits, with special mention due to the marvelous Cherry Jones in a duplicitous role. There's some funny dialogue, particularly in the service of Clooney and Pitt, who maintain an easygoing cool throughout. Both are polished, accomplished actors, and they wear clothes nicely. They, along with a few of the others already mentioned, are the nucleus of this movie, and the remaining members of the gang are really only in the picture to justify the title.
It's hard to imagine that Soderbergh was burning to make this sequel, but no doubt the money made as compelling an argument to him as it did to Danny Ocean. He's entertained himself by getting in touch with his indie roots with tricks like jerking the camera around. The cast is said to have had lots of fun making the movie, horsing around and playing practical jokes on each other and generally emulating the laid-back approach to filmmaking that characterized the old Rat Pack's work ethos. So what you get is a diverting couple of hours of pulp, a travelogue with a caper plot plugged haphazardly into it, some of the most annoying music you will ever hear on a soundtrack, and the arguable pleasure of spending time with some cool celebrities having some very expensive fun.
© Text 2004 Jonathan Richards - Filmfreak.be