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Ocean's Twelve (2004)

Oceans 12

Twelve is the new eleven

Directed by:

Steven Soderbergh

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 0 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13

Country: United States

If I remember ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ for one thing, it’ll be providing the definitive moment in Hollywood history where a franchise finally manages to disappear completely up its own arse.

It comes three-quarters of the way into the film, when a character played by Julia Roberts – Tess – is asked to blag her way past security guards by pretending to be – you’ve guessed it – Julia Roberts. Never mind the fact that her undeniable similarity to Roberts has never been mentioned at any other point in either this film or its predecessor: up until this remarkable moment, it was never an issue. Yet, somehow, the instant it’s decided among the main characters that this is the plan, everyone else in the outside world immediately recognises Tess as not Tess at all, but Roberts. This even includes a passing Bruce Willis (playing himself, rather than a look-a-like of himself), who somehow at the same time fails to recognise the striking resemblance between Matt Damon’s character – Linus – and, er, Matt Damon.

But what of what goes on before all of that? Well, we’re once again placed in the company of top heist-smith Danny Ocean (who’s the spitting image of George Clooney), partner-in-crime Rusty Ryan (look mum, that man looks just like Brad Pitt!) and the nine other hangers-on who we last met robbing Andy Garcia doppelganger Terry Benedict in 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven. You might think the door is open at this point for the lot of them to head off and start their own highly-lucrative look-a-like agency – but no, that particular plot-twist will need to be held back for ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’, because right now Mr Benedict’s back on the scene and he wants his millions back. Who could ever have seen that one coming?

Anyway, our mob head for Amsterdam, where they plan to pull off another big job in order to pay Tel before he starts chopping fingers off. Of course, nothing’s ever simple in this game, so prepare yourselves for yet another unfathomably elaborate pilferage from our array of gentleman thieves – with the added confusion of a French crime rival (Vincent Cassel) and a snooping Europol agent (Catherine Zeta-Jones) thrown in for good measure (or perhaps just additional bamboozlement).

Running at a grotesquely self-indulgent 125 minutes, it’s a film that takes a Helluva long time in getting to its point, and when it does finally get there it’s underwhelming to say the least. In fact, let’s not beat around the bush – for the amount of decent material actually on show here (and it would be remiss of me not to point out that it does have its highlights), the sheer length of this movie is painful. And is it just me or do most of the gang not even seem to be doing an awful lot in this one? I mean, I know that not everyone’s on the same wage rung as Messrs Pitt and Clooney – but come on guys, would it kill you to pull your weight? You there – Casey Affleck. Yes, you. What do YOU contribute to this film? And you, Bernie Mac – what’s your story? It’s no use hiding, we all know you’re there!

Not that I’m mistaking this for a piece of work intended to be taken in any way seriously. The whole thing’s clearly tongue-in-cheek, and that’s fine by me. In fact, I love a good caper – but it’s just the smugness of it all that I can’t stand. This is a film so bloody proud of itself that it has to punctuate each of its punch lines with a burst of the soundtrack, like some sort of inexorably misguided fanfare to mediocrity. How can anyone defend that? I certainly can’t, so I’m not going to try.

It's Got: The most ridiculously high-profile extras in memorable celluloid history.

It Needs: To be the end of this franchise. Unless, of course, they decide to cast Billy “When the Going Gets Tough” Ocean in the lead role next time. For him, and him alone, I’ll make an exception.

Alternatives:

Foolproof, Ocean's 11 (1960), Ocean's Eleven (2001), Welcome to Collinwood

Summary

If you really must insist on seeing it, do it because you’re curious to witness the single-most appalling scene of Julia Roberts’ career – and not because you actually think it might be any good.

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