"Ocean's 12" is what happens when a bunch of old friends meet at a high school reunion. And like every such reunion there is the element of the unknown, that sweaty, nervous excitement amid the warm glow of camaraderie. This is how I would describe "Ocean's 12," sequel to the hit "Ocean's 11," the film that successfully placed Steven Soderbergh's auteur sensibilities into the common man's popcorn cup. But allow me to really begin this critique by answering a question that, I suspect, over 60% of you readers want answered: 'Is Ocean's 12 better than the Ocean's 11? Has it been able to escape the Sequel Syndrome?' Like any good manipulation, I would plead my case before throwing out my judgment. But this is hardly a manipulation – so my verdict is "Ocean's 12" is on par if not better than the first film. It's an extension of the characters from the "Ocean's 11"; it has a completely different MO that neglects the glitzy sparkle of con games or plot-setups and instead chooses to play more on the ensemble's chemistry; but above all, "Ocean's 12" is a more a Soderbergh film than its predecessor was (his maniacal talent for editing and pacing is almost heartlessly apparent this time). And all these things are good things in my book.
Plot? It's only a basic framework to support the charisma of the cast. Three years after they robbed Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) the ghosts of the past come back to haunt Danny Ocean (George Clooney), leader of the rat pack, who is in now retired (there are several funny references to his real age) and lives a domesticated life with wife Tess (Julia Roberts). But "Ocean's 12" is not about Danny Ocean. The focus of this sequel is Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) who as the prologue will reveal had ditched his ultra-sexy girlfriend Isabel (Catherine Zeta-Jones) years ago to pursue a successful life of crime. Isabel now heads Metropol, Europe's leading police institution and this confirms our suspicion that much of the action will take place in exotic, foreign locales. Back to the gang, Terry Benedict has finally found every one of the original twelve that stole his $160 million; and he wants it all back; with interest. So the rat pack gets together to pull off another heist to avoid death and ensure the franchise's running storyline. The team arrives in Europe to begin their work but are undermined in their efforts by the alleged world's #1 thief, Nightfox (Vincent Cassel). Thus begins the complication of Ocean's gang and Rusty's unwavering attempts to win Isabel back.
Since the film is about the ensemble cast – and with the limitation of space and time - it would be difficult for me to comment on every member of the rat pack with fairness. But the highlight performances were Matt Damon as the aspiring apprentice, Julia Roberts as the loving wife (she uses her renowned comic timing in a scene concerning a celebrity cameo that threw audiences into a fit) and Vincent Cassel as the French, cockier version of Pierce Brosnan's Thomas Crown. In the absence of a real plot, at the end of the day, the light-hearted jokes, family-driven feel and laid-back cool is the embodiment of "Ocean's 12." This is pure entertainment folks; sliced and diced by a director of impeccable credentials. - Adnan Khan