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Ocean's Twelve

How do you surpass one of the best films of 2001? How do you raise the stakes on the pinnacle of heist films? How can you make Brad Pitt sexier?

Steven Soderbergh's answer is you don't even try.

The entire rat pack from Ocean's 11 returns this Christmas to throw a party. George Clooney and Brad Pitt return as your dashing hosts. Catherine Zeta-Jones is on the invite list this time around, along with party crasher Bruce Willis. But the real guest of honor for Ocean's Twelve is you, the audience.

Soderbergh and the cast clearly aren't interested in making another high rolling, glamorous heist film. There is no big score that everyone is working towards, but rather a series of ever changing goals that the characters adapt to. Without the heist film format, or the burden of being a remake, Ocean's 12 is free to tell a great story about a guild of thieves and their exploits.

A few years after the Bellagio job in Ocean's 11, the gang has gone their separate ways. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Tess (Julia Roberts) are living ho-hum lives of banality when Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the mark from the first film shows up and demands his money back, with interest. Benedict visits each team member, no matter where they've been hiding and delivers the same ultimatum.

With their cover blown, the team must reassemble and perform another job to get the money to pay Benedict back. As an added twist, they are being pursued by a former love interest of Rusty (Brad Pitt) who works for a European intelligence agency and a master thief who wishes to prove himself the best in the world.

It's obvious from the get go that this is a cast that loves film making and that they trust their director. There is a familiarity and comfort among all parties that there is a great joy in telling a great story. These are not only characters we like but actors we love.

The dialogue is crisp and well timed while still being relaxed and casual. The characters are given time to tell a more complex story while still enjoying the freedom to stop for silly banter. O12 manages to accomplish being intriguing and hilarious at the same time.

Instead of the bright lights of Las Vegas, Ocean's 12 has a very 60s-70s European flare to it. It's almost a remake of the original Ocean's 12, had one been made. The cutaways are rough, sometimes awkward and not always flattering, but they add realism rather than Hollywood high gloss. Soderbergh's jump cuts, handheld shots and grainy film show a passion for film making. The soundtrack blasts with a groovy eloquence. It's all hip, man.

The proof is in the details. The film not only tells a grand story but follows up on the smallest details from Ocean's 11 that you may have forgotten. The two films fit so well together that a movie marathon is a must when O12 comes out on DVD.

The only possible downside to the film is that not everyone will appreciate the slower pace or the nontraditional directing. In a world dominated by Jerry Bruckheimer explosion fests, a generation of movie goers won't recognize top notch actors and a director at the peak of their art. Too bad for them, more fun for the rest of us.

Ocean's 12 is a classic for now and for decades to come. It's both a worthy sequel and a top notch film on its own. I loved it and immediately wanted to see it again and then I wanted to sacrifice a goat to my god and beg that they make another.

If that line doesn't make the cover of the DVD box, then I will kiss Brad Pitt square on the lips.


Michael Goodson

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