Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ocean's Twelve




Directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by George Nolfi, Ocean’s Twelve is the sequel to 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven in which Danny Ocean and his gang have to travel to Europe to pay back the money they had stolen in the first film while dealing a master thief who is trying to usurp them as well as an Interpol agent trying to catch both of them. The film is another heist comedy where there’s a much looser tone than in the first as it has the gang trying to deal with new challenges. Starring returning cast members George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Bernie Mack, Elliot Gould, Carl Reiner, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, and Julia Roberts along with Vincent Cassel, Robbie Coltrane, Eddie Izzard, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Ocean’s Twelve is a very funny and entertaining film from Steven Soderbergh.

The film takes place three years after the events of the first film in which Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his gang have been found by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) who wants his money back plus interest. With only two weeks to pay him back, the gang travel to Europe where they learned that a thief named the Nightfox (Vincent Cassel) was the one who ratted them out to Benedict while an Interpol agent named Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is also after them as she has a grudge towards Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) whom she once dated. While there’s not much plot in George Nolfi’s script, there is a lot of complexities to the way things are presented as Danny and his gang have to deal with the Nightfox as well as the target on their backs from Benedict and Lahiri.

Along the way, hilarity ensues as members of the gang get themselves in trouble where Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) decides to get Danny’s wife Tess (Julia Roberts) involved. Still, there are some aspects to the story that includes depth such as Linus wanting to be more involved in the planning as well as some background about Isabel whose father was a master thief. Isabel is an interesting addition to the story of the gang as her relationship with Rusty adds some drama and tension into the film as Rusty had kept the relationship a secret to most of the gang who are upset that Isabel is after them. The Nightfox is an interesting antagonist who just wants to be known as the best thief in the world as he is upset when he learned about the heist Danny and his gang had did in the first film.

Steven Soderbergh’s direction is definitely stylish as it is set in locations in the U.S. as well as Europe in cities like Amsterdam and Rome as well as Lake Como in Italy. There is looseness in the way Soderbergh directs the actors where there’s a feeling they’re relaxed and having a lot of fun which allows the film to feel improvisational. Yet, there’s also some gorgeous images in the compositions that Soderbergh creates in his camera as he’s also the cinematographer under the Peter Andrews pseudonym. Even in Soderbergh’s approach to lighting and filters to play into the visual style while Soderbergh also creates some montages and scenes to play into the world what the gang is trying to and what they were doing when they’re founded by Benedict. Soderbergh’s approach to humor and action has some style as well as being engaging to showcase Soderbergh’s talent in telling a story. Overall, Soderbergh creates a very dazzling and enjoyable film about a heist team trying to pay back the man they stole from three years earlier.

Editor Stephen Mirrone does amazing work with film‘s stylish editing with its use of jump-cuts and montages along with some stylish transitions for the film. Production designer Philip Messina, with set decorator Kristen Toscano Messina and art director Tony Fanning, does excellent work with the film‘s set pieces from the hotels and places the gang stays at to the lavish home of the Nightfox. Costume designer Milena Canonero does brilliant work with the costumes from the clothes that Isabel wears to the suits that the Nightfox wears.

Visual effects supervisor Thomas J. Smith does nice work with some of the film‘s minimal visual effects such as the hologram of the Faberge egg that Ocean‘s gang and the Nightfox has to steal as well as the lasers in the museum. Sound editor Larry Blake does superb work with the sound to play into the atmosphere of the locations as well as some of the sound effects for some of the moments in the heist. The film’s music by David Holmes is fantastic for its mixture of electronic music, jazz, and funk to play into the film’s humor and action as well as some music ranging from hip-hop and pop including an Italian pop ballad that plays into the relationship between Rusty and Isabel.

The casting by Debra Zane is phenomenal for the ensemble that is created as it features some notable small appearances from producer Jerry Weintraub in a flashback scene where he’s talking to the mysterious LeMarc, Topher Grace as himself in a scene at Rusty’s hotel, Jeroen Krabbe as an agoraphobic recluse whom Ocean and his gang have to rob for the heist in Amsterdam, Jared Harris as Basher’s sound engineer, Cherry Jones as a FBI agent, Robbie Coltrane as an eccentric criminal named Matsui, Eddie Izzard as the technician Roman Nagel the team hires, and Bruce Willis as himself visiting Rome. Vincent Cassel is superb as Baron Francois Toulour/the Nightfox as a master thief taught by the great yet mysterious LeMarc as he rats out Ocean to Benedict in the hopes he can outdo Ocean and his gang. Catherine Zeta-Jones is wonderful as Isabel Lahiri as Rusty’s former lover who still holds a grudge towards him as she is eager to capture Ocean, Rusty, and their gang.

Andy Garcia is great as Terry Benedict as the casino owner who lost a lot of money in the first film due to Danny Ocean and his gang as he is eager to get what he lost plus interest or else he has them killed. As members of the gang, there’s amazing performances from Eddie Jemison as the hacker Livingston Dell, Shaobo Qin as the acrobatic Yen, Scott Caan and Casey Affleck as the bickering brothers Turk and Virgil Malloy, Elliott Gould as brainy Reuben Tishkoff, Carl Reiner as wide Saul Bloom, and Bernie Mac as resourceful Frank Catton. Julia Roberts is fantastic as Tess Ocean as Danny’s wife who realizes what is going on as she reluctantly plays part in helping Danny through Linus where she has to play a very famous movie star.

Don Cheadle is excellent as Basher Tarr as the British bomb expert/sniper who realizes the severity of the situation as he becomes frustrated by the setbacks he and the gang endures. Matt Damon is brilliant as Linus Caldwell as a thief who is eager to become an equal to Danny and Rusty as he would make a last-minute play to beat the Nightfox when Danny and Rusty are caught. Brad Pitt is very funny as Rusty as Pitt brings a lot of humor and swagger to his role as he finds himself dealing with Isabel as he becomes lost in what to do with her. Finally, there’s George Clooney in a marvelous performance as Danny Ocean as the head thief who is trying to figure out everything as he also deals with the setbacks and trying not to lie to his wife.

Ocean’s Twelve is a sensational film from Steven Soderbergh. Armed with a great ensemble cast, a cool soundtrack, and beautiful locations. It’s a film that not only captures the spirit of its predecessor but also bring a looseness that is just fun to watch. Even as it has the actors just being relaxed and enjoying themselves while letting the audience have fun with them. In the end, Ocean’s Twelve is a remarkable film from Steven Soderbergh.

Steven Soderbergh Films: sex, lies, & videotape - Kafka - King of the Hill - The Underneath - Gray’s Anatomy - Schizopolis - Out of Sight - The Limey - Erin Brockovich - Traffic - Ocean's Eleven - Full Frontal - Solaris (2002 film) - Eros-Equilibrium - Bubble - The Good German - Ocean’s Thirteen - Che - The Girlfriend Experience - The Informant! - And Everything is Going Fine - Contagion - Haywire - Magic Mike - Side Effects - Behind the Candelabra

The Auteurs #39: Steven Soderbergh: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

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