Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ocean's Twelve

This one I actually wrote a while ago, but it still describes how I feel about this film. Also, it's rather short, but oh well.


“Ocean's Twelve” is almost like an art-house heist movie. Don't make the mistake of walking into it expecting a very coherent plot, at least not on the first go around. Those who look for action here are bound to be disappointed. One shouldn’t try to take the frankly ridiculous heist seriously. Its best moments are, indeed, its most ridiculous. What the director, Steven Soderbergh, does with this movie is something very different than what he did with Ocean's Eleven, which was witty, but was still basically a straightforward caper, focused largely on the cleverness of the action. This movie is not really about a heist at all, per se. It is about the way people talk to each other. Despite the enormous cast (all the originals plus Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vincent Cassel—and look for the great little cameo by Bruce Willis), the dialogue is the real star here. Soderbergh throws us into the deep end of a colorful pool of misunderstandings, jokes, banter, threats, tricks, insults, deflections, accusations, confessions, end-arounds, double-crosses, realignments, reinterpretations, and reversals—all intricately constructed and delivered with flair. Characters in this movie even sometimes talk in riddles just for the sake of it, such as in one brilliantly absurd scene where Brad Pitt and George Clooney allow Matt Damon to tag along on a tricky negotiation session and neglect to inform him that the whole meeting will take place in a delicate and bizarrely indecipherable poetic code. And even this scene is tipped on its head later. The movie observes and joys in the barbed banter and convoluted communication, but it does not sit back passively, but rather wraps the talk in as much flashy style and setting and luxury and music (a lively and fitting score by David Holmes) as possible, so that it feels like the stars just having a party. Fortunately, we're invited, and the final scene confirms and makes literal the inclusive party tone, ushering us in to simply hang out with all these glamorous, well-paid entertainers. But don't be fooled by the dazzling surface. Underneath is a virtual handbook on verbal communication in the movies. Whether this will entertain you and make you think, or annoy you with its shallow extravagance, I don't know, but in a weird and counter-intuitive way, it worked for me.

Ocean's Twelve (PG-13) ****

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