Three years after their audacious Vegas heist, Danny Ocean's (Clooney) 11-strong crew are finally tracked down by fuming casino boss Terry Benedict (Garcia). He gives them two weeks to pay him back with interest. So they whizz to Europe to pull off more heists in a bid to save their skins.
Ocean's Eleven is, without doubt, one of the best remakes ever made. The 1960 Rat-packed original never turned its star-wattage into onscreen brilliance, with its cast having a better time making it than anyone else had watching it. But Steven Soderbergh took the same premise and a similarly glitzy set of players, then produced a buff, disciplined little heist movie that glistened with effortless charm. So what about the sequel to the remake? A movie which, amazingly, reunites every player from the first - not to mention Lady CZJ and a few heavyweight cameos - and relocates them to sunny, glammy Euro-locales. Unfortunately, it's horribly easy to argue that, returning talent aside, Ocean's Twelve has more in common with the original Eleven than the remade one. Perhaps that's too harsh. But it is riling to know that Pitt, Clooney, Roberts and co. had such a great time gallivanting around the Continent when what they've achieved fails to hit the heights of what went before. The script's largely to blame; where once there was sharpness there's now a lack of focus. Eleven concerned one elaborate heist, involving meticulous planning, deft employment of gadgetry, a few neat short cons and one ace long con, all played out to great effect. Twelve concerns two half-conceived heists and the process of pulling off either is unclear, while the cons involved simply don't work; the central one is a shameless cheat that'll leave any attentive audience-member exasperated come the final unveiling. This doesn't matter so much given the movie manages to coast along on its cast's collective charm. Clooney and Pitt still amuse with Danny and Rusty's half-telepathic dialogues, while Damon's Linus is entertainingly awkward in his blundering attempts to develop his heisting leadership skills. But even so, the characters are somewhat lost - in more than one sense. Here, Clooney takes a back seat, and with that anchor aweigh, Ocean's Twelve bobs around aimlessly. Who's our hero here? Rusty? Linus? Zeta-Jones' determined thief-taker? It's never clear. Furthermore, the cast's inherent starriness has this time been allowed to blind us to the characters. Everyone involved knows this. And they're not afraid to show it in a series of blatant in-jokes - some of which are hilarious, while others prove infuriating revealing the hollow Hollywood laugh-in beneath. As if in battle with the sparkling gloss spooned on by his cast, he keeps the look gritty and grainy, his partner in grime being David Holmes, whose original-score contributions are raw, fuzzy and Roy Budd-y. Soderbergh doesn't so much direct this movie as rescue it from itself. Actually, there's your answer to the question of who's the hero of Ocean's Twelve: Steven Soderbergh.
Compared to its ultra-slick predecessor, it's a bit of a mess. But it maintains a breezy sense of fun and certainly looks as cool as its minus-one equivalent.